Several thousand online messages have piled up as Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon considers what to do with recently passed legislation that would bolster gun rights.
Many of the messages urge Nixon to sign the legislation, calling them important protections of Missourians' rights. Some suggest he should veto the law, raising concerns about the potential ramifications.
The Republican-led Legislature sent the Democratic governor several gun measures this year. One would declare void federal laws that infringe upon gun rights and would allow concealed weapons to be carried in school buildings by designated school personnel who complete training, have a valid permit and register with the Department of Public Safety. It also would lower the minimum age for obtaining a concealed gun permit from 21 to 19 and would make it a misdemeanor to publish identifying information about a gun owner.
Another bill would bar the Revenue Department from keeping copies of documents needed for a concealed gun permit.
A third measure would give county sheriffs responsibility for concealed weapon permits. Currently, sheriffs receive permit applications and issue paper permits that are taken to a local licensing office overseen by the Department of Revenue so that the person can receive a photo ID noting his or her permit. That legislation also would allow schools to teach a National Rifle Association-sponsored lesson or similar program to first graders about what to do if they find a gun.
Gun legislation gained particular attention at the state Capitol this past year amid proposals in Washington for changes such as expanding background checks and prohibiting high-capacity magazines. Privacy rights for gun owners also attracted attention after legislators learned the Missouri State Highway Patrol had shared the list of people with concealed gun permits with a federal agent at the Social Security Administration.
The Missouri governor's office has received messages about gun bills from people living in Missouri and elsewhere. The number urging Nixon to sign significantly outnumbered those urging him to veto, based upon a review of a sampling of the messages provided to The Associated Press.
Nixon has until mid-July to sign, veto or allow the measures to take effect without his signature. Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said Friday the legislation still is under review.
Among many urging Nixon to approve the gun bills is Ben Cook, of Springfield. He said the government has been overstepping its authority, and his message focused on legislation that includes federal gun laws. Cook said the bill in Missouri needs to be signed.
"To do anything else would show that you do not support the Rights of the citizens of Missouri who voted you into office!" he wrote in his message to the governor. "It is clear that the Democratic party is fighting to take away our Constitutionally Protected Right to Keep and Bear Arms and I will not stand for this!"
Some calling for the bills to become law said they are needed to preserve gun rights. People also voiced criticism that the state database of concealed gun permit holders had been shared.
Some of the messages appeared similar, referencing gun proposals from President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and urging Nixon to "make sure your citizens remain free to keep and bear arms."
Opponents of the gun bills raised questions about the constitutionality of some portions and the wisdom of others.
Amy Gangloff, of St. Louis County, said the legislation seems aimed at making it easier for people to obtain guns instead of trying to keep weapons out of the reach of criminals and those who are irresponsible. She has a 6-year-old son.
"I am so tired of being terrified that my son will get accidentally shot by someone's gunmisfiring or some other randomly dangerous scenario that seem to dot the news. While gun violence is declining across the country, we seem to be trying to create an environment where it will rise," she wrote in a message that urged Nixon to veto legislation that includes federal gun laws and allowing certain school personnel to carry a concealed gun.
Some of the veto calls came from people living in states such as California, Colorado, New York and South Carolina. A woman from Newtown, Conn., said she is the mother of two first-grade boys and remembers attending summer camp in Purdy, but that "no one in my family will come within 100 miles of Missouri if you don't get some gunsense in your state!"