Editorials

Bang: Gov. Jay Nixon should veto two dangerous Missouri gun bills

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon should veto two disturbing gun bills passed this year by the General Assembly.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon should veto two disturbing gun bills passed this year by the General Assembly. AP

Missouri lawmakers didn’t listen to the experts on guns in 2016.

They didn’t listen to the police officers, the prosecutors and the criminal justice officials who said it made no sense to pass two dangerous bills regarding firearms.

They didn’t even listen to the pro-Second Amendment gun owners who wanted to keep sensible laws on the books.

Instead, the legislators approved establishing a “stand your ground” law in the Show-Me State. That essentially would make it easier for someone to shoot another person for questionable reasons and then get away with a crime.

The second measure that got through the General Assembly would allow people to carry a concealed weapon — with no training and no permit. Talk about irresponsible.

Gov. Jay Nixon should veto both of the disturbing proposals.

 

He should force the Republican-dominated General Assembly to come back later this year and try to override his actions. While some legislative observers think that’s a long shot, it would take just a couple of switched votes in the Senate and a half-dozen or so in the House to sustain Nixon’s veto.

Nixon has until mid-July to sign or veto the gun bills. Scott Holste, press secretary to Nixon, said in an email that they “will undergo a careful review” before any action is taken, which at the earliest would come in June.

The “stand your ground” law could lead to an uptick in homicides, as it has in a few other states.

“I can’t think of a single way it helps,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said of the law. “It does not make the public safer.”

She points out that current Missouri laws already protect people who claim self defense in shootings. Prosecutors have to evaluate how valid that claim is as they take their cases to court. Under the expansion of “stand your ground,” prosecutors’ jobs become more difficult in essentially protecting the public from someone who has improperly used a firearm to shoot someone else.

As for the bill on gun training, far too many Missouri lawmakers think the Second Amendment should allow people to carry a firearm anytime they want and almost anywhere.

Backers of the new bill point out people already can openly carry a gun without a permit; this would allow them to conceal the weapon on their body.

But Democratic Rep. Stacey Newman of St. Louis said, “What it will do is it will allow people to carry concealed weapons without actually obtaining a permit, which means you would not be going through the mandated training.”

If someone is going to fire a gun, they need to be properly prepared at least at a minimum level to do so.

Nixon has valid reasons to veto both bills. Then, lawmakers need to come back to Jefferson City and vote in favor of protecting Missourians with responsible gun laws.

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