Government & Politics

Missouri Republicans vote to override veto of gun bill

Senate Bill 656 eliminates the requirement to get training and pass a background check before being legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public.
Senate Bill 656 eliminates the requirement to get training and pass a background check before being legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public.

For the second time Wednesday, Republicans turned to a parliamentary maneuver to kill a Democratic filibuster and force a vote on a bill, this time to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill eliminating training and permit requirements to carry a concealed gun in public.

The maneuver, known as “calling the previous question,” was once rarely used — only five times in the Senate from 1970 to 2001, when Republicans captured the majority. But it’s now been used five times since 2014, including three times this year.

After shutting down debate Wednesday, the Senate voted to override the governor’s veto on a 24-6 party line vote. The bill moved to the House, where it was quickly approved 112-41.

It becomes law on Jan. 1.

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Previously, gun owners could carry a concealed weapon in public by passing a criminal background check and completing a gun safety training class in order to get a permit.

On the final day of the 2016 legislative session, lawmakers approved a bill eliminating those requirements and allowing someone to carry a concealed firearm in public without a permit.

Nixon vetoed the bill because he said it would allow “individuals to legally carry a concealed firearm even though they have been or would be denied a permit because their background check revealed criminal offenses or caused the sheriff to believe they posed a danger.”

Joining Nixon in opposing the bill were groups representing law enforcement officers around the state, such as the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, along with the state’s four Catholic bishops.

Proponents have argued that the change is about public safety. The legislation, according to the National Rifle Association, “seeks to expand the fundamental right to self-defense of Missourians and strengthen their ability to protect themselves and their families.”

Sen. Brian Munzlinger, a Republican from Lewis County who sponsored the bill, said it simply “will allow law abiding citizens to protect themselves from criminals.”

Rep. Kevin Engler, a Farmington Republican, said gun-control advocates have made dire predictions about every gun bill that the Missouri General Assembly has ever passed.

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“This bill will not do the crazy things that are being said,” he said.

Kansas City Democratic Sens. Kiki Curls and Jason Holsman railed against the bill, saying it will make streets in Kansas City and St. Louis less safe.

“We should be concerned about the safety of our law enforcement officers and our constituents,” Curls said.

The wide-ranging bill would also reduce the penalty for carrying a firearm into buildings where it is not allowed from a felony to a misdemeanor and implement a so-called “stand your ground” law that says people no longer have a duty to try to retreat before using lethal force if they think their life is in danger.

The bill would expand the castle doctrine to permit invited guests in a home to use deadly force on intruders. And for those who still want to get a concealed-carry permit, the bill creates a lifetime version that never expires.

Rep. Kim Gardner, a St. Louis Democrat, said the bill sets up a “perfect storm” where the legal standard for using deadly force is lowered and firearm training is eliminated.

Holsman said he considers himself pro-Second Amendment but still opposes the legislation.

“You can be both pro-gun and pro second amendment and still think this is a bad piece of legislation,” he said.

While he also has problems with the “stand your ground” provisions, he said, “if this bill didn’t get rid of the training, I probably wouldn’t be against it.”