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Blunt welcomes NRA to St. Louis with bill signing

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Governor Matt Blunt has approved legislation that prohibits authorities from seizing Missourians' firearms during a civil emergency.

Blunt signed the bill Friday at the start of the National Rifle Association's convention in St. Louis.

Blunt said the measure reinforces the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"This legislation is a straightforward affirmation that neither state government, nor local government have the right to seize firearms during an emergency," Blunt said.

The NRA has pushed legislatures in a dozen other states to pass similar laws.

Their effort is a response to a decision by New Orleans authorities to confiscate weapons after Hurricane Katrina.

The NRA expects more than 50,000 people to visit this weekend.

The gathering has also drawn criticism, and not just from anti-gun groups.

Ray Schoenke heads a new organization called the American Hunters and Shooters Association.

He said the NRA is too extreme politically, and does not tolerate even moderate views on regulating firearms.

"It doesn't make any sense why the National Rifle Association wouldn't cross over and try to keep communities safe," Schoenke said. "You would think that any law-abiding citizen, and certainly a gun owner, would step up and say this is something that's important to us.'"

Schoenke also said the NRA does not do enough to protect wilderness areas used for hunting.

An NRA spokeswoman said the new group does not have the experience to back its political positions.