Kansas, Missouri advance pro-gun measures

04/01/2014 6:59 PM

04/01/2014 6:59 PM

Lawmakers in Kansas and Missouri took aim Tuesday at gun-control enforcement in their states.

The Missouri House endorsed legislation that attempts to nullify some federal gun-control laws but removed the threat of jail time for federal agents who enforce those laws.

And the Kansas Senate rejected a Kansas City, Kan., lawmaker’s proposal to keep concealed guns out of libraries and community centers and then gave first-round approval to a bill stripping cities and counties of their power to regulate firearms.

In Missouri, the House answered law enforcement objections by voting112-37 to remove the possibility for criminal prosecution of federal law enforcement officers who knowingly enforce gun policies the state deems to “infringe on people’s right to keep and bear arms.”

The original measure could have prompted state officials to arrest their federal law enforcement counterparts.

The House measure needs one more affirmative vote before moving to the Senate, which has passed a version containing the potential jail sentences.

Opponents argue that both bills are unconstitutional because courts have consistently ruled that states cannot nullify federal laws. And Democrats raised concerns about civil penalties that remain in the House bill.

“I don’t want to see a law enforcement officer be put in a position to be sued for following the law,” said Rep. Judy Morgan, a Kansas City Democrat.

The bill would also lower the minimum age to get a concealed gun permit to 19 from 21.

The Kansas measure would void local gun ordinances and ensure that the open carrying of firearms is legal across the state, although cities and counties still could keep them out of public buildings. The Senate plans to take a final vote Wednesday to determine whether the goes to the House.

Sen. Pat Pettey, a Kansas City, Kan., Democrat, unsuccessfully sought to use the bill to amend a law enacted last year that allows people with state permits to carry their weapons into more buildings. Pettey wanted to exempt libraries, community centers and community mental health centers — allowing local officials to permanently ban concealed weapons at those sites.

“Our libraries are gathering places within our communities,” Pettey said. “Most of them are tiny libraries around the state. They are run either by one person or by volunteer staff, and they are interested in having their own communities make decisions about what fits their communities best.”

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