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Senate dials back amendment after NRA announces opposition

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Senate removed an amendment on to a bill which nullifies some federal gun laws after the National Rifle Association announced opposition to the bill because of the amendment. The move came after a lengthy filibuster on a motion to reconsider, an infrequently-employed method of bringing back a previous action like bill perfection. 

Last week, St. Louis Democrat, Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, attached an amendment to an underlying bill which nullifies swaths of federal gun regulations and criminalizing their enforcement in the state. Her amendment requires gun owners to report stolen weapons to local police within 72 hours of becoming aware of the theft. Nasheed is actually opposed to the underlying bill, but told The Missouri Times the best chance her reporting language has is on a Republican gun bill.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed

While the amendment passed easily, Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, made a “motion to reconsider” late Monday night, effectively bringing the debate back to the floor and jumpstarting Nasheed’s filibuster.

Bill sponsor Brian Nieves, R-Franklin County, said the NRA “lied” about the amendment, calling the organization “dishonest.” He and Nasheed appeared before reporters last week to slam the NRA for misleading statements after the organization issued a statement calling on Missourians to oppose the bill and contact their senator. The NRA release claimed Nasheed’s amendment included a $1,000 criminal penalty, when in fact Nasheed’s language does not carry any fine whatsoever. Republican senators denied the reconsideration was at the behest of the NRA, but Senate Republicans also caucused before the debate, marking only the 2nd meeting of the caucus since the beginning of the session.

Despite his anger with the NRA, Nieves ultimately collided with Nasheed repeatedly on the senate floor, as he was ultimately supportive of stripping the amendment after agreeing that it was the result of a “reasonably compromise.” It was also Nieves who asked Shaaf to make the motion to reconsider. Shaaf said he had doubts about the amendment just moments after voting for it, but also said on the floor that politics was a factor.

“There’s my personal feelings about [the amendment]” Schaaf said of his original vote. “And then there’s the politics of this that I was unaware of.” Shaaf said he didn’t speak with the NRA, but that he reconsidered his own vote quickly.

Nasheed was visibly upset about the motion, accusing Schaaf and his fellow Republicans of “blindly following the NRA.”

“So, we aren’t free thinkers in this building anymore?” Nasheed said on the floor. “We just follow blindly and when the NRA says don’t do something we just don’t do it?”

Sen. Brian Nieves
Sen. Brian Nieves

Nasheed said undoing her amendment was “protecting criminals,” and that the bill “should never have been printed.”

“We have children dying every day to gun violence,” Nasheed said. “And you’re saying we shouldn’t have to tell the police that a criminal now has a gun. You say that’s ok. I’m saying it’s not ok. That amendment I offered should not have been challenged.”

Nasheed filibustered late into the evening even after a brief discussion with Nieves about compromise language for the bill. A similar bill passed the legislature and was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon last year. The bill nearly overcame the veto until Republican Senators Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles and Ron Richard, R-Joplin, voted against the legislation.

Nasheed eventually ended her filibuster and the senate stripped her amendment and re-perfected the underlying bill by party-line votes.