by Sam Levin
It won't be a crime to enforce federal gun laws in Missouri after all.
The state legislature yesterday failed to override Governor Jay Nixon's veto and enact one of the most extreme pro-gun measures in the country -- the highly controversial House Bill 436, which would have, among many contested provisions, made it illegal for police to enforce certain federal firearm laws in the state.
"Missourians deserve common sense solutions that move Missouri forward," Nixon, a Democrat, says in a statement. "As a gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment, I applaud the bipartisan vote in the Senate to sustain my veto of this unnecessary, unconstitutional and unsafe nullification bill."
The House of Representatives did vote 109-49 in favor of overriding Nixon on this gun legislation.
In the end, however, the State Senate blocked the measure from becoming law with a 22-12 vote.
The failure of this high-profile GOP bill comes after a week of steady criticism from a diverse range of law enforcement officials in the state.
Attorney General Chris Koster, also a Democrat, offered a lengthy rebuke of the bill, arguing that it would effectively end partnerships between state and federal law enforcement officials and would give serious offenders -- ones guilty of federal firearm crimes -- the opportunity to sue police officers for simply doing their job. The Missouri Sheriff's Association said it would violate its oath, with an official in Franklin county, which has notoriously high meth lab rates, arguing that HB 436 could dismantle its drug task force. Federal prosecutors one day earlier announced the arrest of more than two dozen suspects in a massive indictment, noting that officers involved in this case would potentially face both criminal and civil lawsuits if the bill is in effect.
A police chief who has vocally opposed federal gun control even slammed the bill.
Proponents of the measure have argued that these kinds of interpretations of the negative law enforcement impacts are wrong and that states have a right -- and obligation -- to push back against unconstitutional federal policies.Here is footage of Republican State Senator Brian Nieves -- who has made his distaste for Nixon and Koster very clear -- slamming opponents of the bill: Mark Kelly, co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, and husband to former congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
Tonight, the MO leg stopped a veto-override effort to nullify federal law- wld have ended background checks. This is a win!— Mark Kelly (@ShuttleCDRKelly) September 12, 2013
The effort to nullify federal gun law was not the only controversial component of HB 436.
Here are four other noteworthy components:
1. Violating First Amendment? In a stated effort to protect the privacy of gun owners, the legislation says, "No person or entity shall publish the name, address, or other identifying information of any individual who owns a firearm or who is an applicant for or holder of any license, certificate, permit, or endorsement which allows such individual to own, acquire, possess, or carry a firearm."
Critics -- notably the Missouri Press Association -- argued that this would potentially make it a crime to even write about criminals. It could, for example, outlaw reporters covering pro-gun rallies.2. Guns in schools The bill's establishment of the "school protection officers" option faced scrutiny from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and some argue it could have made designated teachers vulnerable to termination if they didn't carry their firearms:
3. Selling confiscated guns As we noted yesterday in our post on the so-called "firearms pulverizer" machine, this legislation would change the law regarding police destruction of confiscated guns, essentially requiring cops to first attempt and sell or trade firearms to licensed dealers before pulverization: "Any firearm received shall be offered for sale or trade to a licensed firearms dealer. The proceeds from any sale or gains from trade shall be the property of the county, municipality, or governmental body.... Any firearm remaining in the possession of the county, municipality, or governmental body after the firearm has been offered for sale or trade to at least two licensed firearms dealers may be destroyed."
4. Confusion in Missouri's conceal carry law? Both the sheriff's association and the attorney general's office cited concerns about how this new law could potentially create conflicts with existing (recently passed) laws on the issuance of conceal carry permits. If enacted, the law could have created confusion around the permitting process, potentially undoing a bill signed into law earlier this year.