by Sam Levin
Late one evening in May, Missouri lawmakers passed an extreme Second Amendment bill that would make it illegal to enforce certain federal gun policies in the state. Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the measure this month, arguing that the state of Missouri cannot pass a law contradicting the U.S Constitution. But the fight in Jefferson City did not stop there.
Republicans legislators are now trying to organize an override of the governor's veto, and they may very well get the votes they need -- with the help of a few key Democrats.
The response from Progress Missouri, a liberal advocacy group and one of the bill's vocal opponents?
"$%&@# $%&@# !!"
"Not much surprises us in Jefferson City these days," Sean Soendker Nicholson, executive director of Progress Missouri says in an e-mail blast to supporters sent out yesterday, with that exclamatory subject line. "But we were disgusted to learn Friday that Democrats are joining with right-wing extremists in an effort to override Governor Nixon's veto of a blatantly unconstitutional nullification bill."
See also: - Missouri Legislature Sends Bill to Governor Blocking Federal Gun Control - Gov. Jay Nixon Vetoes Bill To Block Federal Firearm Laws - Dave Roland Who Helped Draft GOP Gun Bill Says Missouri Has Right to Block Feds
"The reason? A lack of political courage," Nicholson writes.
The legislation, House Bill 436, called the Second Amendment Preservation Act, is a lengthy one that would, among its many provisions, criminalize the enforcement of federal laws in Missouri that infringe on the right to bear arms.
"Of course, an individual state is not empowered to determine which federal laws it will comply with, nor is it empowered to declare a federal act to be unconstitutional," Nixon wrote in his veto message. "The doctrine of supremacy is as logically sound as it is legally well-established."
Supporters and critics alike have labeled it one of the most extreme pro-gun bills in the country (with one backer calling it "the most hardcore" proposal of its kind in the nation). It is also seen as one of the strongest states' rights efforts in the U.S. right now.
The Associated Press is now reporting that three Democratic State Representatives -- Keith English, Ben Harris and T.J. McKenna -- plan to vote in favor of an override.
The bill's supporters need a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override Nixon. If those three state representatives do vote for the override -- and if the Republicans who originally voted in favor of the legislation do so again -- it appears that it would become law, the AP calculates.
Daily RFT left messages with all three of those reps yesterday, and we'll update if we hear back.
Lawmakers will reconvene in the fall, and this will likely be one of the most high-profile showdowns.
Progress Missouri is targeting those Democrats in its latest opposition efforts, with an online petition calling them out and asking voters to "Say NO to the extremists' unconstitutional agenda."
The group points to its statements to the AP acknowledging that it is concerned with the political ramifications of voting against a gun bill:
"We love our guns and we love hunting. It's not worth the fight for me to vote against it," said Rep. T.J. McKenna, D-Festus. But, he added, "the bill is completely unconstitutional, so the courts are going to have to throw it out." ...
"Being a rural-area Democrat, if you don't vote for any gun bill, it will kill you," Harris said. "That's what the Republicans want you to do is vote against it, because if you vote against it, they'll send one mailer every week just blasting you about guns, and you'll lose" re-election.
As they point out in their statements, the legislation is expected to lead to a costly legal battle for Missouri. (U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has threatened Kansas over a similar measure that became law.)
Supporters of the bill argue that it's a price worth paying to protect Second Amendment rights. Daily RFT recently spoke with an attorney who helped craft the language of the bill who argues that states have a right and a duty to push back against the federal government in this way.
Here's Progress Missouri's full e-mail blast, followed by a copy of the legislation and Nixon's veto message.
Not much surprises us in Jefferson City these days. But we were disgusted to learn Friday that Democrats are joining with right wing extremists in an effort to override Governor Nixon's veto of a blatantly unconstitutional nullification bill.
HB436, known in the national press as "the nation's most extreme gun protection bill" , is a dangerous piece of legislation that would nullify all federal gun laws, as well as allow teachers to carry guns in school and punish law enforcement officers for enforcing any federal gun law. This dangerous and unconstitutional measure was vetoed early this summer.
But as of last week, Democratic Reps. Keith English, Ben Harris and T.J. McKenna have each indicated they will join their extremist colleagues and vote to override Gov. Nixon's veto of HB436. These could very well be the votes that allow this bill to become law.
The reason? A lack of political courage.
Rep. McKenna actually said, "It's not worth the fight for me to vote against it," before admitting, "the bill is completely unconstitutional." And Rep. Harris said, "Being a rural-area Democrat, if you don't vote for any gun bill, it will kill you."
But there's still time. Sign our petition TODAY to let leaders of both parties know you care about the constitution - and that it's time to get real about policies that will actually reduce gun violence.
Sean Soendker Nicholson