JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. –The Missouri General Assembly voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of an omnibus gun bill that will expand concealed carry in the state as well as expand the state’s rules for legal use of force.
Democrats prolonged the inevitable for a few hours late Wednesday during veto session, but the controversial gun bill eventually made it through the Senate. It took the second previous question of the night to do so.
Republicans overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of Sen. Brian Munzlinger’s SB 656 after roughly three hours of debate. The bill was targeted by multiple outside interest groups on both sides of the gun debate, including the National Rifle Association, who made it a national priority.
The bill would allow a “stand your ground” statute which would allow a person outside of their home to use lethal force if they feel their life is lethally threatened. It would also allow permitless concealed carry across the state, which also eliminates the need for training currently necessary for concealed carry.
Munzlinger brought forth a privileged motion for previous question after two hours of debate, and it led to the eventual passage of the bill. The PQ has only been used three times during veto session in the history of the Missouri legislature, including the night’s earlier PQ on the photo voter ID law.
Those two provisions drew derision from gun control advocacy groups like Moms Demand Action, but also political leaders from urban areas like Kansas City Mayor Sly James, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson.
Despite campaigning efforts leading up to veto session, those groups were ultimately unsuccessful of keeping it from moving to the House.
Munzlinger said that he believed in upholding Second Amendment rights for Missourians, and that the fears of the legislation were overblown.
“There have been a lot of misconceptions about this bill,” he said. “All it does is it allows the law-abiding citizens of the state of Missouri the right to carry concealed.”
However, Democrats argued against the bill on multiple fronts. Sen. Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City, spoke about her fears of the “stand your ground” provision.
“[These laws] have led to questionable cases involving deadly force,” she said, citing the examples of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.
Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, also expressed his displeasure with the law. He considers himself a supporter of the Second Amendment, but he also supported training people with deadly weapons.
“I want moderation; I want common sense,” he said. “Being a sportsman and appreciating your Second Amendment right doesn’t mean you abandon your common sense on legislation and the unintended consequences of that legislation.”
Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, noted that he supported the tenets of the bill, but he questioned the amount of time the bill was fully debated in the regular session. Discussion on the bill occurred late in the regular session and only lasted about an hour and a half.
“I just want to point out the reason that bill did not come up for a vote was this particular bill which came at the last moment, and many of us were kind of blindsided at which this bill came at us in the last moment,” Dixon said.
Dixon voted against the PQ, but voted in favor of the bill.
When the bill moved to the House, it was debated for just over an hour before it was eventually passed 112-41.
Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, the House handler, called the 2nd Amendment the most important right in the constitution because it allows the other rights to exist.
The debate was initially contentious. After Rep. Kim Gardner spoke, the first Democrat to do so, Rep. Paul Curtman called her remarks “nonsensical ramblings” and was audibly booed.
After that, both sides generally stayed in their lanes, speaking passionately but not with each other. After about an hour of debate, the previous question was moved and the House voted to make the bill the law.
Groups supporting and opposing the bill reacted to its passage.
The NRA praised the bills passage, noting that it had multiple sections the organization wanted.
Becky Morgan, a volunteer chapter leader with Moms Demand Action, which opposed the bill, expressed disappointment that Missouri became the first state since the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida to pass a Stand Your Ground law.
“Missouri lawmakers buckled to the NRA instead of listening to the vast majority of Missouri voters, including mayors and law enforcement leaders, who support our current concealed carry permit system. And in doing so, they made our state the first new Stand Your Ground state since the death of Trayvon Martin,As if opposing lifesaving policies like criminal background checks on all gun sales wasn’t bad enough, the gun lobby continues to push to put more guns in more places, with no questions asked — laws that make the jobs of those who serve and protect us more difficult and more dangerous. Despite the clear message from law enforcement leaders about this bill’s risk to public safety, the NRA leadership made SB 656 its top national priority.But this fight isn’t over. Moms will continue to work in all corners of Missouri to make sure our lawmakers know that Missouri voters are paying attention and that we’ll hold them accountable when they make decisions that put our communities at risk and that cater to the interests of special interests over constituents.”
Tim Curtis contributed to this report.