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Missouri Democrats propose ban on assault weapons

Friday, February 15, 2013 | 8:58 p.m. CST; updated 9:07 p.m. CST, Friday, February 15, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri's gun-friendly culture isn't stopping some House Democrats from trying to purge assault weapons from the state.

Legislation backed by several St. Louis area lawmakers would require gun owners to surrender or destroy their assault weapons within 90 days of the measure's passage. The proposed ban would include semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and semi-automatic pistols with the capacity to shoot more than ten rounds of ammunition before reloading.

Any ammunition feeding device that can hold more than ten rounds would also be prohibited. Under the bill, gun owners could choose to send their weapon to another state if they didn't want to destroy them.

In a chamber controlled by a two-thirds Republican majority, the legislation is unlikely to advance or even get a hearing. The bill's sponsor said Friday he knows Missouri is a very conservative state, but he still wants a dialogue on safety.

"I am serious about some kind of control of weaponry. I am a realist, however, and am willing to accept some compromise," said Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-St. Louis, who filed the bill this week. The bill is also sponsored by Reps. Jill Schupp, Margo McNeil and Rochelle Walton Gray.

The measure would make possessing, manufacturing or importing assault weapons a felony. If convicted, a person could serve a one to seven year prison sentence. Ellinger said his measure only targets "military-style" weapons and doesn't include handguns or hunting rifles.

Even though the prospects of passage are slim, GOP lawmakers are still criticizing the bill.

"The only way this bill will pass is if a hammer and sickle is sewn onto Old Glory," tweeted Rep. Caleb Jones, R-California.

The bill would exempt law enforcement and military members if assault weapons are used in their line of work. Manufacturers and dealers selling exclusively to police or the military would also be exempt. Jones said the restrictions on gun manufacturers would "kill jobs in the state of Missouri."

Schupp said she understands why people might not like the bill, but questioned whether people should have assault weapons in the home.

"On a personal level I don't understand the need for high capacity semi-automatic rifles," she said.

Ellinger's measure is the latest in a string of gun proposals in the Missouri legislature. One Democrat has filed a bill that would require parents to notify their child's school if they own a firearm, while multiple pending Republican bills would nullify federal gun control laws.


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