WHAT OTHERS SAY: Bill could lead to making even thinking illegal

Friday, February 22, 2013 | 11:31 a.m. CST

Next, it will be the thought police.

No, we are not talking about George Orwell’s "1984." We are talking about the Missouri legislature.

Rep. Mike Leara, R-St. Louis, wants to criminalize proposing gun control legislation. That’s right, Leara proposed legislation — House Bill 633 — that would make it a class D felony to propose legislation that "further restricts an individual’s right to bear arms."

It looks like Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, could be in big legal trouble. Ellinger had the audacity to propose legislation — House Bill 545 — that would prohibit the possession of assault weapons.

Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, proposed that all sales or transfers of firearms be done through a licensed dealer in his House Bill 187.

It is important to note that none of these bills has even made it to a vote, much less passed both houses of the General Assembly and been signed by the governor.

Still, we wonder how Leara could sincerely believe that criminalizing the mere act of proposing a bill is good government. Or maybe he just sees it as good politics.

Leara has a pretty consistent conservative voting record. He voted to require photo identification for voting, to allow employees to exempt contraception from healthcare coverage, to expand charter schools and to require that driver license exams be administered in English only.

But another common refrain among conservatives and most Americans is that we don’t want the government in our personal lives.

The voters in Leara’s district might want a representative who defends their Second Amendment right to bear arms, but we don’t think they want anyone who sees those rights in a different light to be criminalized for that position.

It’s still legal in Missouri to have an opinion and even to propose legislation that supports one’s opinion. Leara would like to change that, at least as far as his opinion on gun control is concerned.

Such a move would not only criminalize his colleagues in the House, it could potentially criminalize anyone who starts or signs a petition for a law regarding gun restrictions, background checks, licensing or manufacturing.

What is next? We know how Leara feels about contraception, public schools and the English language.

Newman quipped on Twitter that Leara’s bill "sends me straight to prison."

Surely that would appeal to Big Brother.

Copyright Springfield News-Leader. Reprinted with permission.

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