State Sen. Ron Richard on Thursday said he has started drafting a new gun rights bill to replace a controversial measure that failed Wednesday when it fell one vote short of a veto override in the Missouri Senate.
Richard, R-Joplin, the Senate majority floor leader, was one of two Republican senators who voted against the override in the Legislature’s veto session.
The bill went to the Senate after the House of Representatives, by just the margin needed, voted to override the veto by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.
Richard on Thursday said he joined Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey in voting against the override because of his own reservations and because of concerns raised by law enforcement officials from around the state.
His goal in the new legislation, Richard said, will be a bill that “protects the First and Second amendments, doesn’t hinder law enforcement in doing their jobs, and doesn’t end up challenged in court as soon as it’s enacted.”
Though he voted in the regular session for the measure, called the Second Amendment Preservation Act, Richard said he began to reconsider his support after talking with law enforcement officials. He said representatives of the state’s sheriffs, police chiefs and highway patrol were contacting lawmakers about provisions of the measure that could have made it difficult for local law enforcement to work alongside federal officers on efforts such as drug task forces. Some said it could have forced local law enforcement officers to arrest federal officials enforcing federal gun laws.
“The patrol, sheriffs’ offices, police and prosecutors were really worried they wouldn’t be able to work with the feds in putting the bad guys in jail,” Richard said. “They’re all going to help on language in a new bill.”
Richard said Senate leaders have received a similar offer from officials of the National Rifle Association, which took no position on the measure.
Nixon’s veto of the bill noted that it violated the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives precedence to federal laws over conflicting state laws, and that it infringed on the First Amendment. Among other things, the bill would have nullified some federal gun control laws and would have made it a crime for an individual’s gun ownership to be reported.
Richard said he also was concerned about the constitutionality of the bill and described the reporting ban as “one of several” areas in which the bill would have had consequences that were not intended.
“The bill wouldn’t have taken effect because it would have been challenged in court right away,” he said. “What we’re working on now is a bill that the Legislature wants and will hold up in court.”
He said he intends to have the draft measure complete in 60 days, when it will be made available on the Internet. Then it will be pre-filed for the start of next year’s legislative session.
He said the chairman of the Senate’s tax policy committee also has started work on a new tax-cut bill, after lawmakers were unable to override Nixon’s veto of a tax-cut bill that he said would have cut funding for education, mental health and other public services.
THE MISSOURI SHERIFFS’ ASSOCIATION and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police were among organizations that came out against the gun bill.