The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

July 9, 2013

Our View: Veto sends message

— Gov. Jay Nixon demonstrated much more than just the power of the pen with his veto of a House bill that nullifies federal gun laws in Missouri.

His veto, in our view, is a call for reasoned leadership from our legislators.

The gun bill, House Bill 436, was approved by the General Assembly on May 8. It is clearly unconstitutional as written. It makes it a crime for federal agents to attempt to enforce federal gun laws in Missouri and could have landed anyone from journalists to auctioneers in jail for publishing the names of gun owners in the state.

Nixon, in vetoing the proposed legislation on Friday, noted the obvious. The bill violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives preference to federal laws over conflicting state ones, and it steps all over First Amendment rights of free speech and the press by attempting to criminalize the act of publishing the name of someone who owns a firearm.

It’s almost as if the legislators wanted the governor to veto the bill. It is poorly written and fraught with problems.

While other states have enacted local laws on gun control, few of them threaten federal agents with jail and a fine. Those same penalties would have applied to anyone who publishes the name, address or other identifying information about a gun owner.

Clearly Missourians want their Second Amendment protections, but those rights should be able to coexist with the First Amendment.

Legislators who say they intend to override Nixon’s veto this fall should first consider the language of this bill and ask themselves if that really was their intention.

They would do well to think this one through so that instead of knee-jerk reactions, Missourians have laws on the books that will stand the tests of time, the courts and the Constitution.

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