The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

February 12, 2014

Missouri lawmakers push bill nullifying federal gun laws

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A gun bill prized by Missouri Republicans moved forward in the Senate this week, but it carries an amendment that could weaken its appeal with some gun rights supporters.

The bill, which received first-round approval Tuesday night, aims to nullify federal gun rules and would make it a crime for federal law enforcement officials to enforce those laws; doing so would be punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Missouri Republicans began pushing for the legislation after President Barack Obama’s call last year for increased background checks and a ban on assault weapons.

Last year’s bill was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, and a veto override attempt was blocked by Senate leaders Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, and Ron Richard, R-Joplin, after Missouri law enforcement officials raised concerns about safety and the Missouri Press Association raised a First Amendment challenge.

Richard, who serves as Senate majority floor leader, had originally said he would personally file a revised bill and make it his top priority this year after effectively killing it during the veto session in September. But Richard is not carrying the bill. He has handed it off to Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, who carried the bill last year.

“As majority leader, I’ve got a lot of jobs to do,” Richard said. “I respect the chairmen to do their job. I’m not going to steal a bill from someone. Everyone is an individual here. My goal is to hear these members’ items and get them debated.”

Nieves’ bill is less specific than last year’s version about which federal laws it seeks to nullify. It removes references to the 1934 and 1968 federal gun control acts, while keeping generic references to fees, registration and tracking policies that are considered “infringements” or “have a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership” of guns and ammunition by law-abiding residents.

On Tuesday night, the Senate accepted an amendment offered by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, that would require gun owners to report a stolen firearm to law enforcement within 72 hours.

The National Rifle Association has opposed similar legislation nationally for years, saying it would create a de facto gun owner registry and could place “unknown civil liabilities on the gun owner.”

In a notice posted Wednesday on its website, the NRA urged members to call Missouri senators and tell them to vote against the bill.

In addition to the nullification component, the bill would allow some school staff members to be permitted to carry concealed weapons. Democrats successfully added an amendment that would require a public meeting to be held before weapons could be allowed in schools. That provision’s sponsor said he hopes it would cause school districts to think twice before letting guns in the classroom.

“I believe my parents would say we don’t want our teachers to carry guns, and our school board members would then have to look at the consequences of that decision,” said Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City.

Holsman’s amendment also would allow designated personnel to choose to carry pepper spray instead of a weapon.

On the potential qualms for gun advocates, Richard said Missouri is “the poster child for the Second Amendment in the country, and we’ve got a good relationship with the NRA.”

The bill also includes a provision that would allow those with conceal-carry permits to carry a weapon openly, even in cities where it is banned, and it would lower the minimum age for obtaining a permit from 21 to 19.

Nieves, speaking with reporters, said he still feels good about the bill. Lawmakers also could go back and reconsider the legislation they advanced Tuesday night.

“Every time there’s an amendment added to a bill, it changes the dynamic,” Nieves said. “I can live with (Nasheed’s amendment). I wouldn’t raise it on a flagpole and say it is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen, but I can live with it.”

Nieves said he had not heard from the National Rifle Association on the issue, and that it would not matter to him anyway. He said he is comfortable that the bill is constitutional and would withstand a court challenge, despite the federal Supremacy Clause that allows federal laws to trump state laws. Courts have consistently ruled that states cannot nullify federal laws, but that hasn’t stopped Missouri and other states from trying.

“When they’re violating our Second Amendment rights,” Nieves said, “their actions are unconstitutional.”

The measure needs one more affirmative vote in the Senate before heading to the House.

Text Only
Top Stories
  • r071014peacelutheran4.jpg Rebuilt Peace Lutheran adds outdoor features in nature-centered ministry

    Katharine Redpath keeps a pair of red and black leopard-print rain boots in her car for use in her pastoral duties at Peace Lutheran Church. “I never thought it would be part of my uniform,” she joked on a recent rainy day as she pulled them on in preparation for another trek onto the church grounds. Since opening their new building in north Joplin last spring, church members have moved beyond the brick-and-mortar structure.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • Missouri’s Bright Flight scholarship to be fully funded for top students

    Missouri’s Bright Flight scholarship will be fully funded for top students this year for the first time since the 2009-10 academic year, officials with the state Department of Higher Education announced Friday.

    July 13, 2014

  • Joplin City Council schedules meeting with Wallace Bajjali

    The Joplin City Council will get its monthly update from representatives of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners when it meets for an informal session Monday night.

    July 13, 2014

  • Joplin High School construction ‘fast, furious’ in homestretch

    Will Joplin High School be ready for classes next month? It’s a question that is being asked of Superintendent C.J. Huff almost daily now, and he said Friday that the project is still tracking for an Aug. 25 opening. “I’m over there almost every day, and the transformation is remarkable,” he said.

    July 11, 2014

  • 070114 St Mary's cross 3.jpg Crucifix returns after three-year absence

    The original crucifix at St. Mary’s Catholic Church has come home. It had hung behind the altar since 1968, until the 2011 tornado destroyed the church and nearly everything in it, along with the nearby rectory, school, parish center and more.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • r071014newbiz5.jpg Study examines costs of starting businesses in area towns

    When Firehouse Pottery opened in Joplin this spring, it was just one of the hundreds of new businesses that launch in the Four-State Area each year. Charity Hawkins, a Joplin native, said she and her husband “wanted to do something that would be great” for their hometown and decided to open a business that catered to both youths and adults. But starting a new business is a high-risk gamble.

    July 12, 2014 3 Photos

  • Free Agency-LeBron.jpg LeBron James says he’s returning to Cavaliers

    LeBron James is going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071314stmarysmove.jpg More than 100 volunteers turn out to move school to its new permanent home

    Staff and students of St. Mary’s Elementary School have been through a lot of changes together since their old school at 505 W. 25th St. was destroyed in the 2011 Joplin tornado. Second-grade teacher Bette Schoeberl said the temporary quarters were cramped and that it was sometimes hard to move around. On Saturday, Schoeberl and other staff members moved into their new school building.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071114 Mustang1_72.jpg Mustangs roll into Joplin for Mother Road Weekend

    Amanda Massey, of Joplin, gasped when she saw the 1968 fastback Mustang. “This is gorgeous — simply gorgeous,’’ she said. “I have always wanted an old Mustang.’’ With family members in tow, Massey had an opportunity Friday to examine a herd of wild and colorful Mustangs that muscled its way onto Main Street in downtown Joplin for the Mustang Mother Road Weekend.

    July 11, 2014 3 Photos

  • Local libraries target early childhood literacy with state program

    Local libraries are reporting great success so far this summer with the Racing to Read program, an early childhood literacy initiative from the state. The program, established by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, is designed to help strengthen and expand the quality and availability of library services to address early literacy needs in Missouri.

    July 11, 2014