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Before the Sept. 14 veto session, a look at SB656 and expanding gun rights in Missouri

Missouri State Capitol. Missouri legislature. http://bit.ly/2cytTFT
Jim Bowen | Flickr
Missouri State Capitol.

The Missouri Legislature’s veto session will take place this Wednesday, Sept. 14. For the bills that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed during the 2016 legislative session, both House and Senate will need a two-thirds vote to override the veto.

One of the more controversial bills that Gov. Nixon vetoed in the 2016 session was Senate Bill 656, a wide-ranging gun bill, which would ease regulations on people seeking to obtain or renew a conceal-carry endorsement or permit. The bill would also create a controversial “stand your ground” law, which means a person does not need to retreat before using lethal force to defend themselves.

Earlier this year, the bill passed both Missouri House and Senate with a veto-proof majority, meaning the veto has a decent change of being overridden on Wednesday.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from two differing viewpoints of SB656: Rep. Eric Burlison (R-133), a co-sponsor of the bill, and Detective Sergeant Kevin Ahlbrand, of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department who also serves as the legislative director of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police.

Pro SB656: Rep. Burlison hopes the veto will be overridden.

“What this bill does is focus this issue more on who the individual is and if they have the authority to carry that firearm in the location they are at than about how they are carrying that firearm,” Burlison said. “In Missouri, right now, if you wish to put clothing over the firearm, you need to get a permit. We want to focus on that right to carry permit should give you enumerated rights in public locations rather than about how you are carrying that firearm.”

Con SB656: Detective Sergeant Ahlbrand hopes the veto will be maintained.

“First off, the system we have in place works well now,” Ahlbrand said. “Local sheriffs are the best people to recognize who in their communities should and should not carry firearms. Most of the other states with this type of legislation are mostly rural states. There’s a big difference between what happens in rural Missouri, Montana and Vermont and what happens in urban Kansas City and St. Louis. As far as open carry in Kansas City and St. Louis, open carry is not supported by local ordinance unless people have a Concealed Carry Weapon permit. Sheriffs are the best ones to determine who should be able to carry a concealed weapon. … This is a danger to public safety and it will be an increased danger to law enforcement because, quite frankly, we will have to assume everyone is armed.”

Listen to the full discussion here:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.
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