ST. LOUIS — One state representative is taking it in her own hands — with the help of supporting groups — to combat legislation that was truly agreed and finally passed during session which seeks to nullify federal gun laws within Missouri.
Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, said the effort she’s spearheading encourages people to contact Gov. Jay Nixon via petitions or pre-written letters urging him to veto House Bill 436.
The two means that Newman and supporting groups — like Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns — are using to draw interest are through a form letter creator with Progress Missouri and an online petition through Credo Mobile. While the form letter page doesn’t indicate how many people have filled out the letters, the Credo site shows about 680 signatures as of 7 p.m. Monday.
With about a month left until July 14 when all bills that haven’t been vetoed automatically go into law, Newman said her hope is these signatures and letters will help Missouri avoid the situation Kansas had when they passed the same bill. She said Attorney General Eric Holder warned Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who signed a similar bill into law, that the legislation was unconstitutional.
“This is not something Missouri can do, something Kansas can do, or any other state,” Newman said. “It could cause the state to face Federal court challenges. We need to save the state the time and money.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peters, said that while he disagrees, he thinks Newman’s heart is in the right place.
“She’s very serious, compassionate and committed to her beliefs,” Funderburk said. “But the constituency she’s concerned about having access to handguns have it now. They’re the ones that are violating the laws now. This bill wouldn’t really impact them. If you’re already willfully violating reasonable gun violations now, changing them isn’t going to affect that.”
Newman has been fighting certain gun legislation for years, both those backed by the National Rifle Association — like this one — and those that aren’t but are still what she calls “the wrong gun bills.”
Newman said she’s been talking with the governor’s office since early January about her concerns on the issues involving the 28 gun bills she said were filed this year.
Funderburk said that he hasn’t spoken with Nixon’s office about where he’s at on the bill, but said the final version of HB436 had a lot of additions placed on it that the governor will have to consider.
“I think I know Jay Nixon to be a fairly good supporter of the Second Amendment,” Funderburk said. “But I just don’t know what his position is on this particular bill.”
Nixon, who’s leaving on a trade trip June 14 to Europe, has yet to act on any of the firearm-related legislation.
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.