JEFFERSON CITY — After a fiery floor discussion that stretched through most of Tuesday's session, the Missouri House endorsed 112-41 a measure that would nullify some federal gun laws.
The House voted to remove a previously contentious part of the bill that would have opened federal agents to criminal prosecution for enforcing gun laws. Even with this change, House Democrats showed fierce opposition to House Bill 1439, colloquially known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act.
Bill sponsor Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peters, says that the amendment removing punishment for federal officers was a direct address of "deep, heartfelt concern" from law enforcement officials.
With the amendment, citizens could still sue law enforcement if they believe their Second Amendment rights have been breached. Under previous iterations of the bill, agents could have faced up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine for enforcing gun laws.
The bill would also allow school personnel approved by individual school districts to carry concealed weapons after undergoing training. An amendment offered by Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, which removed language that would require a public hearing to appoint these school protection officers, was also adopted. Brattin said that these non-public appointments would add an "element of the unknown," which he said he thought could prevent school shootings.
Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis, and Rep. Margo McNeil, D-Florissant, both questioned the effectiveness of preventing gun violence by allowing teachers to have firearms. Citing the swift actions from teachers during the attack on Sandy Hook, Montecillo said that "teachers need to be real teachers" and "police officers need to be real police officers."
Brattin countered, saying that his amendment "gets the politics out of doing what is right to protect students in our classrooms."
House Bill 1439 also lowers the minimum age to get a concealed-carry permit from 21 to 19.
Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, became emotional during floor debate when talking about the potential negative impact on children. She said the House knows the bill is unconstitutional.
"We're not addressing how we protect and save future lives," she said after session. "We talk about saving lives in other bills, we talk about protecting lives in other bills, but this one is about protecting gun ownership. Sometimes, the hypocrisy really upsets me."
Newman said that anti-gun groups have already worked on litigation to challenge the bill in court if it passes into law. Last year, similar legislation was almost implemented after narrowly avoiding a veto override. Newman said she does not believe that bill opposition has the numbers to prevent overturning a veto from Gov. Jay Nixon.
The bill needs one more vote in the House before it heads to the Senate. The bill's Senate counterpart was passed earlier this session.