JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House of Representatives gave first round approval to a bill that would prohibit any federal gun regulations in Missouri and open law enforcement officials to civil liability if they try to enforce them. The bill is similar, but not identical, to a bill vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon last year that ultimately died on an override attempt in the Senate.
Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Charles, sponsored the bill, which he says will protect Missouri citizens from overreaching federal authority. Funderburk removed a provision that would allow criminal prosecution for state or federal law enforcement officers that enforce regulations, but the officers would still be open to civil lawsuits.
Democrats spoke vehemently against the bill that included provisions allowing school boards to designate armed “protection officers” from within the district staff. Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, chided Republican leadership on the floor for refusing to hear amendments on the bill that would have dealt with mental health issues.
“A lot of shootings take place because of mental health issues,” Ellington said. “Why are we hearing amendments on CCW’s and not about providing funds for mental health? Did your caucus before this and decide not to hear amendments that would deal with mental health?”
Ellington filed an amendment to place a 1-cent sales tax on new gun sales, which would then be placed in a special fund to the Department of Mental Health. Ellington repeatedly demanded an explanation on the floor as to why his amendment wasn’t heard. After repeating, Points of Order were raised against Ellington and he chose to address the dais. Speaker Pro Tem Denny Hoskins was presiding at the time.
“Mr. Speaker, how was the order determined of who would speak and what amendments would be heard?” Ellington asked.
“That’s up to my discretion, gentlemen. I’m sorry but your time has expired,” Hoskins replied.
While the bill passed with overwhelming support from the majority party and some minority members, a veto from Nixon is likely. Last year, a similar bill failed to override Nixon’s veto when two members of Senate leadership, Pro Tem Tom Dempsey and Majority Leader Ron Richard, switched their votes and rejected the measure.
Funderburk, in closing remarks, said his bill was merely reinforcing the rights that the Founding Fathers always intended to exist. Funderburk said that the federal government was guilty of “egregious” overreach.
The House perfected the measure by a vote of 112-41. The bill still requires a final vote before moving to the Senate, where a similar measure has already passed. Both chambers will likely have to conference on the bills to rectify the differences, which include disparity in how each bill deals with law enforcement officers.
Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email email@example.com or via Twitter at @CMReischman