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Mo. House votes to add gun owners to state's protected groups

Black semi-automatic pistol
(via Flickr/kcds)

Legislation that would add gun owners to the state’s list of protected minority groupshas passed the Missouri House.

Under the bill, gun owners who carry their firearms with them in a lawful manner (i.e. possess a concealed-carry permit) cannot be fired, denied benefits, or otherwise discriminated against.  It was sponsored by State Rep. Wanda Brown(R, Cole Camp).

"There was a meat-packing plant in northern Kansas City, it was in a bad neighborhood," Brown said.  "The owner would carry his gun to work, and he was told that if he didn’t quit carrying his gun, the USDA would not come and inspect his product, therefore he couldn't sell his product.”

Democrats argued that the bill was being used to increase political pressure on their candidates during an election year.  However, about 20 Democrats joined the GOP majority in voting "yes."  In addition, Mike Colona (D, St. Louis), an openly gay lawmaker, expressed outrage that Missouri would protect gun owners from discrimination but not protect people based on sexual orientation.

“I can be fired because of my sexual orientation, my constituents can be fired because of their sexual orientation," Colona said.  "What this body has done is put protecting gun ownership above discriminating against somebody because of their sexual orientation, and I just don’t think that’s right.”

The bill now goes to theMissouri Senate

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