Missouri lawmakers pass gun rights legislation

Friday, May 16, 2014 | 1:56 p.m. CDT; updated 2:55 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 16, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers gave final approval Friday to legislation that could allow teachers and other school personnel to carry concealed weapons after undergoing training. But another gun rights priority was bogged down on the legislature's final day because of a dispute between majority Republicans.

Supporters said the school legislation would protect students from intruders. It would allow school districts to select teachers or administrators as "school protection officers." Republicans began pushing for the legislation after the deadly 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn.

The House voted 111-28 on Friday to send it to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's desk, a day after the bill cleared the Senate with a 21-8 vote. Nixon vetoed legislation containing the school protection officer provision last year, but it was included as part of a broader gun rights measure that sought to nullify federal gun control laws and jail federal agents for enforcing them.

Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, said arming teachers needs to be considered in light of school shootings.

"It is an unfortunate reality, but it is a reality," he said.

Opponents said the measure could compromise school safety by having firearms in the classroom with young children. They also criticized the provision of the bill that allows districts to vote on whether to designate a protection officer during a closed meeting.

"I would not want my child placed in the classroom with a teacher who is carrying. Her job is to teach my child," said Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis.

The bill would also lower the minimum age required to get a concealed weapon to 19 from 21 and allow concealed weapons holders to carry openly, even in municipalities that ban open carry.

In addition, health care professionals could not be required to ask or document whether a patient owns or has access to a gun, and public housing authorities could not ban tenants or their family members from possessing firearms in their residence or common areas.

A separate bill that would nullify federal laws considered infringements on gun rights was stalled Friday over a dispute among Republicans. Supporters have been unable to come to an agreement over how aggressive the measure should be in punishing federal workers who enforce those laws.

The House prefers a version that gives Missouri residents a civil cause of action against federal workers who violate their gun rights. Senate backers say an additional penalty, barring federal workers from future careers in state or local law enforcement, should also be included.

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