UPDATE: Missouri House tries to outlaw the enforcement of federal gun laws

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 | 5:19 p.m. CDT; updated 8:27 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 24, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House passed legislation Wednesday that would make it a felony for U.S. authorities to enforce federal firearm laws in Missouri, despite concerns that the measure likely is unconstitutional.

The legislation would make it a felony punishable by up to four years in prison for federal agents who try to enforce any federal laws or regulations relating to firearms and ammunition owned by Missouri residents.

Democrats said the legislation likely violates the U.S. Constitution, which gives supremacy to federal laws over state laws.

It's "pretty blatantly unconstitutional," said Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, and "a total waste of our time."

But Republicans pressed forward anyway, asserting that President Barack Obama's gun policies and proposals infringe on the Second Amendment. The measure includes an emergency clause, which means it would take effect immediately upon the governor's signature — in the event it also passes the Senate and is agreed to by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

"We wanted the strongest possible language," said Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, the sponsor of the legislation. "We don't want to have further gun control enforceable in the state of Missouri."

The legislation also states that private gun sales in Missouri involving people who are not licensed dealers shall be exempt from national instant criminal background checks. It also would lower the age to get a concealed gun permit in Missouri to 19 instead of the current minimum of 21.

The House already has passed numerous pro-gun measures this year. Wednesday's bill was approved 117-43 and now goes to the Senate.

A separate bill, which was sent to the Senate on a 102-55 vote Wednesday, includes a provision stating that businesses cannot bar people from keeping guns in vehicles on their premises unless those vehicles are owned by the businesses.

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