By Collin Reischman
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Just a few days after the narrow defeat in the U.S. Senate of a bill that would have mandated background checks for all gun purchases, the Missouri House of Representatives passed legislation that would reaffirm the rights of gun owners across the state.
House Bills 170 and 436, sponsored by state representatives Casey Guernsey, R-St. Joseph, and Doug Funderburk R-St. Peters, passed with wide margins as moderate Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with House Republicans.
While HB170 was largely a symbolic vote, HB436 would make several substantive changes to the law.
HB170 prohibits any enforcement of a federal gun regulation when the gun is manufactured and sold within Missouri. The bill would make any federal official attempting to enforce such laws guilty of a Class D felony.
HB436, which also has language forbidding the enforcement of federal firearm laws, relegates federal enforcement officials to a Class A misdemeanor, instead.
“I’d say the main difference between my bill and [HB170] is that I’m not looking to arrest federal officers who come into this state to enforce a federal law,” Funderburk told reporters after his bill was successfully perfected on the floor. “They are just doing what they believe is their job to do. I don’t want to make them criminals, but I do want it to be clear that it isn’t their job in the state of Missouri.”
HB436, which creates the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” contains several provisions that expand Missouri gun rights. Under the legislation, public schools may designate safety officers to carry a firearm during school hours.
The bill would also allows an individual to carry a concealed weapon in jurisdictions that prohibit open carry by ordinance. The language of the bill stipulates that such an open carry prohibition is lifted if the individual has a valid concealed carry endorsement, which can be displayed upon request to law enforcement. It also specifies that such a weapon could only be carried if it is less than 16 inches in total length.
The bill forbids background checks on “private transactions,” and would prohibit the state or federal government from collecting personally identifiable information as it relates to firearm ownership. Both bills include language to lower the minimum eligibility age for concealed carry endorsements from 21 to 19 years of age.
While much of the bill language may no longer be necessary given the defeat of gun reform in the U.S. Congress, the bills are a rallying point for the conservative base.
When Funderburk’s bill was being debated on the floor Thursday, a large rally hosted by the Missouri Sports Shooters Association was being held in the rotunda, where House and Senate Republicans took time to step out of the chamber and address the crowd, hundreds of whom were wearing green “guns save lives” buttons. The final perfection vote for Funderburk’s bill was held moments after the rally ended, and many of those in attendance found their way into the House gallery to witness the vote.
To contact Collin Reischman, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Twitter at @Collin_MOTimes.