JEFFERSON CITY — Seven weeks after thwarting a veto override attempt on a highly publicized gun bill, a Missouri Senate leader put forth a pared-back proposal Thursday that still seeks to nullify some federal gun control laws but stops short of criminalizing federal agents.
Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard had pledged to work on a revised plan after he and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey split from the rest of the Republican caucus to defeat a veto override attempt of the gun legislation in September. At the time, they cited concerns about the constitutionality of the bill.
The new draft still attempts to declare void any federal policies that "infringe on the people's right to keep and bear arms," but it deletes wording that could have allowed state misdemeanor charges to be filed against federal agents for attempting to enforce certain federal gun control laws.
It also limits the proposed circumstances in which people could sue police and prosecutors for enforcing those gun laws and drops a provision that could have subjected journalists to misdemeanor charges for publishing the identities of gun owners.
"The original bill had great intent, but there were some language problems that kept local law enforcement (from being able) to work with federal authorities on bad guys with guns," said Richard, of Joplin.
Richard said he posted the revised plan on his website Thursday so that people can review it and recommend any changes before pre-filing of bills for the 2014 session begins in December.
The gun legislation "will be the first bill Tom is going to send to committee, and it will be the first bill that we do on the floor and we'll stay on it until we get it done," Richard said.
In September, a 109-49 vote by the Republican-led House barely met the minimum two-thirds majority needed to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of the gun legislation. But the Republican-led Senate's subsequent 22-12 vote fell a single vote shy of the mark needed to complete the override.
The new proposal is less specific about which federal laws it seeks to nullify. It removes references the 1934 and 1968 gun control acts while keeping generic references to fees, registration and tracking policies that "have a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership" of guns and ammunition by law-abiding citizens.
Like the original, it would allow specially trained school personnel to carry concealed guns. But it removes a section that would have allowed them to detain students for up to four hours for any suspected violation of state laws or school policies. Instead, the proposal allows them to detain only people who are acting violently toward others and requires a student's parents to be immediately notified.
The Missouri Sheriffs' Association was one of several law enforcement groups that had expressed concerns that the original bill could have inhibited the ability of local officers to work with federal authorities on certain criminal cases and could have subjected officers to lawsuits from convicted felons.
Association Executive Director Mick Covington said Thursday that the new version addresses its concerns.
The draft also contains a new provision — prompted by discussions with some sheriffs — requiring federal agents to notify local sheriffs before serving warrants in their counties unless the case pertained to national security or defense. That provision wouldn't take effect until Aug. 28, 2017, or when at least four other states enact similar laws, whichever occurs first.