By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The National Rifle Association has been a strong supporter of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who has an A rating from the organization. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s chief executive officer, and Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, came to Joplin and other Missouri cities to campaign with Blunt when he was running for Senate. LaPierre also came to Missouri to campaign for the senator’s son, Matt Blunt, when he was running for governor.
So it was no surprise last week when Blunt issued a statement rejecting President Barack Obama’s calls for tougher gun control policies. He said the focus, instead, should be on mental health.
Blunt said the president’s proposals “fundamentally fail to address ways we can prevent tragic events like Sandy Hook (Elementary School in Newton, Conn.), and instead, he’s attempting to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.”
“We need to have a serious national discussion about preventing senseless acts of violence and protecting our children in their schools, and that should include finding ways to spend federal dollars more wisely when it comes to treating and identifying people who are mentally ill,” Blunt said.
Matt Blunt is on the NRA board of directors, along with Ted Nugent, Grover Norquist, Tom Selleck, Oliver North and several other retired military leaders, and several members of Congress. Former U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., is a member of the board.
According to The Washington Post, Roy Blunt has received $60,550 in campaign contributions from the NRA during his career. The top recipient of NRA money has been U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, with $71,250.
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri’s 4th District, was among other lawmakers issuing statements in the wake of the president’s calls for more restrictions on firearms.
She said “rash gun control legislation will not keep our children safe” and that proposals by the president would “restrict the ability of law-abiding citizens to protect their families.” She said she sees merit in enforcing current laws, requiring federal agencies to provide information on criminals to the FBI’s background check database, and giving more flexibility to states.
She also said there must be “a meaningful conversation about mental health issues and other societal contributors to violent behavior.”
FLANIGAN ADDS CHORES
Most Missouri legislators write a periodic column they share with their constituents, either online or otherwise. State Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, is expanding that chore as chairman of the House Committee on Fiscal Review.
The panel last week began producing its own weekly newsletter than Flanigan hopes will provide lawmakers and others with more information on the state’s financial condition and the potential fiscal impact of legislation being proposed this session.
“It’s just going to be one page, so it won’t take long to absorb, but the goal is to give a little better perspective on what’s gong on in the state from a financial standpoint,” he said. “With the members changing because of term limits, information is crucial.”
Flanigan also is vice chairman of the House Budget Committee. He said fiscal considerations will take on added importance this year, with Gov. Jay Nixon proposing expansion of the Medicaid program and lawmakers looking at the school funding formula and money for higher education.
“Everybody needs to know how much money there is to spend and where it’s coming from,” he said.
The publication also will provide information such as revenue collection rates and discussions on the fiscal impact of legislation as it moves through the steps.
STATE OF THE STATE
Lawmakers will hear from Gov. Jay Nixon at 7 p.m. today when he delivers the annual State of the State address.
The speech, to outline the governor’s policy recommendations and proposed budget for the year, is delivered in the chamber of the Missouri House of Representatives.
Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at email@example.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.