JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate fell one vote short in its effort to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would have rejected federal laws limiting gun use.
House Bill 436 was sent to the Senate earlier Wednesday after the House voted to override the veto by a vote of 109-49. The override attempt failed in the Senate by a vote of 22-12.
The bill was intended to protect Missourians’ Second-Amendment rights, said its sponsor, Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peters. But some legislators said they feared the implications of a provision that would make it illegal to publish the name of a gun owner.
“It turns law enforcement into criminals and criminals into victims,” said Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur.
The legislation would also have lowered the age limit for conceal-and-carry to 19 and allowed school districts to designate teachers and administrators as "school protection officers" who must carry firearms at all times.
The vote in the House drew cheers from the gallery, where supporters wore badges on their sleeves emblazoned with the words “Second Amendment Preservation Act.”
Gina Allen, a member of Concerned Women for America of Missouri, said she thought the bill would protect citizens' Second Amendment rights from federal government overreach.
"There is no doubt that (President Barack Obama) will do something that has our local police forced to take guns away — this bill protects local police from that," said Allen, who lives in Warren County.
House Democrats argued that the Second Amendment can be restricted, just as the First Amendment has limitations that keep Americans safe.
Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, said the bill left police officers who enforce federal gun laws open to lawsuits.
"I'm not going to go back to my people and say that I voted to support drug dealers and gangbangers who have illegal weapons instead of supporting my local law enforcement officials," Colona said.
Boone County representatives voted to sustain the governor's veto 3-2, with Reps. Caleb Jones and Caleb Rowden voting in favor of an override and Reps. Chris Kelly, Stephen Webber and John Wright voting against.
Republican legislators railed against an "eleventh-hour" letter from Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster denouncing the bill. On Sept. 3, Koster wrote to lawmakers that the bill would pit state agencies against federal agencies and could be declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Calling Koster “anti-Second Amendment,” Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, said that Koster’s concerns with the bill were unfounded because they are already covered by state law.
“It is absolutely Attorney General Chris Koster who torpedoed this by lying,” Nieves said before the Senate vote was taken. “My hat's off to you, Koster, for being such a masterful politician. Before he wrote this ridiculous, untrue document, this bill was on a smooth sail.”
Nieves asked his fellow senators to consider the repercussions of voting “no” on a gun-friendly bill in Missouri.
“Missouri is a very Second Amendment-friendly state,” Nieves said. “Your people are going to figure out that this letter from Chris Koster is a bunch of baloney. And they’re going to figure out who voted ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
While Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal, D-University City, said she would vote against the bill, she said she agrees with Nieves on more issues than people would think.
“In your bill, you added language I care about,” Chapelle-Nadal told Nieves from across the chamber during her inquiry of the bill. She said she wanted more legislation that included measures to have parents teach children about guns and enforcing gun thefts to be reported.
In the end, Nieves promised that this issue would be revisited.
“Let me just say to you, Attorney General, you may have beat me this time,” Nieves said. “But I’m not going away. … This fight ain’t over. We’ll be back to revisit it again.”