JEFFERSON CITY – With a thump, Ron Calzone, one of the directors of Missouri First, dropped on the table more than 1,200 witness forms in support of a bill that would nullify federal firearms laws in Missouri.
If it passes, the bill would make it a crime to enforce any federal firearms laws that Missouri courts determine to be in violation of the Second Amendment. It would be a police officer's duty, for example, to arrest any federal agents enforcing those laws.
The bill, which is sponsored by 24 Missouri House representatives, was filed less than a month after President Barack Obama signed 23 executive actions, including orders to make more federal data available for background checks.
Five witnesses came to the bill's public hearing Wednesday to testify in person. No one spoke in opposition to the proposal.
Calzone, who was one of the witnesses, said Missouri First had used an Internet form to collect about 1,200 witness testimonies in favor of the bill from around the state.
Representing them and his organization, Calzone told the committee that he supports the bill for a number of reasons. Those include the fear that there are some in the U.S. Congress — namely U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein — whose ultimate goal is to confiscate all weapons. Calzone said that any federal laws or actions that would make that possible must be prevented.
Among other things, the bill would prevent any federal attempts to require gun owner registration.
"You can't confiscate them until you know where they are," Calzone said.
Two veterans of the Vietnam War spoke at the hearing, too. One of them, Michael Kilgus, expressed support for the bill because he said it would take away nurses' and doctors' rights to determine if veterans should be allowed to have guns.
Kilgus also emphasized that he felt the bill is important on grounds of national security.
"The reason the Russians and the Chinese didn't attack the United States was because they were afraid of armed veterans," he said.
Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, is on the committee and has served two tours in Iraq, but he didn't ask the witnesses or the bill's sponsor any questions because he saw no point in arguing, he said.
"This bill is crazy, and you can't argue with crazy," Webber said.
Ladd Everitt, director of communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said the mere discussion of the bill was a waste of taxpayer money because it would not withstand a challenge in court.
"I think it's something that's patently unconstitutional," he said. "If I was a victim or survivor of gun violence in Missouri, I'd be offended by it."
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peters, said he hopes the federal government would simply "back off" if the bill is passed, as it did after Washington and Colorado passed laws that contradict federal criminal law by decriminalizing marijuana.
The bill is similar to a bill the same committee voted to pass this past week and to another bill passed by a Senate committee.
A recent study by a Johns Hopkins University professor states that Missouri's lax gun laws have led to an increase in gun violence, compared to a decrease in the rest of the country, according to The Associated Press.
The committee did not vote on the bill Wednesday, and committee chairman, Rep. Caleb Jones, R-California, will decide when the committee votes. The next committee meeting has not been scheduled.
Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.