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Legislature Expands Gun Rights With Override Of Nixon's Veto

Black semi-automatic pistol
(via Flickr/kcds)

Missouri residents who have concealed-carry permits will be able to openly carry their firearms anywhere in the state, as a result of the General Assembly decision to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a broad gun-rights bill.

The bill prevents municipalities from barring people from openly carrying firearms, lowers the minimum age to 19 for concealed carry permits in the state, and allows school districts to arm teachers. Police officers also will be barred from disarming people unless they are under arrest.

The Missouri House voted 117-39 in favor of the override, with little debate, early Thursday morning.  The supporting votes included state Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, who is running for St. Louis County executive.

Also backing the bill were two House members competing for the hot Senate seat in Jefferson County: Democrat Jeff Roorda and Republican Paul Wieland.

Earlier Wednesday, the Senate had voted 23-8 in favor of the bill. The number of supporters was the minimum needed to override a governor’s veto.

Backers say the law is needed to protect gun rights, and to prevent frivolous arrests of people carrying firearms.  Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, recommended that all Missourians be armed. "We live in a world that's evil, that wants to harm each and every one," he said.

State Rep. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights, said the bill actually represented "big government'' because it would "overrule cities and elected officials around the state" who have passed laws barring the open carry of weapons.

"Tell Missouri residents that open carry everywhere is a good thing,'' she said. Newman recalled the 2008 killings at the Kirkwood City Hall, which killed several city officials. She said the new law would prevent the city from barring residents from carrying firearms into the council chambers.

Opponents engaged in a mini-filibuster in the Senate.  Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, said the bill will make streets less safe.  Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, said lowering the minimum age for concealed-carry permits to 19 will mean that students can openly carry guns on college campuses.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Will Kraus, R Lee’s Summit, said that the bill will require public hearings before school districts can hire or designate school protection officers, who would be armed.  They also would be required to have training, he said.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.