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Nixon vetoes wide-ranging gun bill

A gun show in Houston, Texas, in 2007.
M Glasgow | Flickr

Updated 3:14 p.m. with reaction -- Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed a wide-ranging bill that would have eased regulations on people seeking to obtain or renew a conceal-carry endorsement or permit.

Nixon cited one of his main concerns with Senate Bill 656 when he told reporters last week that it could rob county sheriffs of the authority to deny conceal-carry privileges when they see fit. He expanded on that concern in his veto message today.

"As governor, I have signed bills to expand the rights of law-abiding Missourians to carry concealed and am always willing to consider ways to further improve our CCW process," he said, "but I cannot support the extreme step of throwing out that process entirely, eliminating sensible protections like background checks and training requirements, and taking away the ability of sheriffs to protect their communities."

The bill also would have created a Missouri version of the controversial "stand your ground" law that exists in other states, in which a person no longer has a duty to retreat before using lethal force to defend themselves.

The measure passed both chambers of the legislature with veto-proof majorities, meaning that Republican leaders will almost certainly attempt an override.

Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee's Summit, who's also running for secretary of state, is already calling for it:

"Senate Bill 656 is important in allowing citizens to legally protect themselves and their families," Kraus said in a written statement. "I am disappointed that Gov. Nixon vetoed this bill aimed at preserving our Second Amendment right, but I am hopeful the Legislature will be able to override this decision in September."

Since it's a Senate bill, any override attempt will have to start in that chamber. But Republicans in the House, including Speaker Todd Richardson, sound eager to overturn Nixon's veto if given the chance.

"This is why the people of Missouri elected a super-majority of conservative supporters of the Second Amendment to the House and the Senate," Richardson said. "Senate bill 656 is the first meaningful step forward on gun rights in over a decade; it passed both chambers with more than enough votes to override the governor's veto. We have to await action by the Senate on a Senate bill but if given the opportunity I anticipate the House having the votes to override."

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, who carried the bill in the House, added: "States like Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming have seen drops in their murder rates since passing permit-less carry statutes, which has caused more states like Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia to join with Missouri to pass similar legislation."

Meanwhile, Becky Morgan with the Missouri chapter of the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America praised Nixon's action:

“In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history this month, Governor Nixon showed true leadership by vetoing SB 656 — a dangerous bill that placed special interests ahead of the wishes of a majority of Missourians and put public safety at risk. Moms worked with gun violence survivors, mayors and other community leaders this session to make phone calls, write editorials, host events and testify at the statehouse to ensure Missouri did not become a state that lets dangerous people carry hidden, loaded handguns in public or turns everyday conflicts into deadly encounters by emboldening people to shoot rather than resolving disagreements in other ways. And now, we are dedicated to making sure Governor Nixon’s message holds — SB 656 would make the every day in Missouri more dangerous.”

Two of the Republican contenders hoping to succeed Nixon in the governor's office next year have also weighed in. First, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder:

"As our nation mourns our fellow Americans who lost their lives in the senseless act of terrorism that occurred in Orlando earlier this month, the ability of Americans to protect themselves is more important than ever. Senate Bill 656 was an important step in that direction, as it would have enacted Constitutional Carry and provided Missourians a greater ability to defend ourselves and exercise our Second Amendment rights. "This morning, Governor Nixon vetoed the bill, calling it an 'extreme step' and claiming that it will take away 'the ability of sheriffs to protect their communities.' As a relentless defender of the Second Amendment and our Constitution, I am disappointed in Governor Nixon's veto and encourage the General Assembly to overturn it."

Former Mo. House Speaker and U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway took it a step further and called on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster to take a stand on Nixon's veto.

"It is time for (attorney) general Koster to stand up and act like a true friend of the Second Amendment. If he is actually a supporter of the Second Amendment as he claims to be, he should immediately condemn Governor Nixon's decision and call on his fellow Democrats to vote to override the veto. I challenge (attorney) general Koster to join me in working to override Governor Nixon's veto."

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.