Gun decision

State senator says bill was ‘so bad, so poorly written and so unconstitutional.’
Monday, November 10, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:00 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The ruling by a St. Louis judge that Missouri’s conceal-and-carry law violates the state constitution came as no real surprise to local state lawmakers.

Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said he was pleased with Friday’s ruling. “I’m not surprised by the decision,” Graham said. “I think the constitutional language was fairly plain.”

Graham said he has battled against the law since it was first introduced.

“I did not agree with the General Assembly overturning the will of the people,” he said. “It’s not good public policy.”

Rep. Steve Hobbs, R-Mexico, who supports the gun law, said he expected the permanent injunction and is disappointed by Judge Steven Ohmer’s decision.

“It seems to me the judicial system wants to take over our power as legislators,” he said.

Hobbs said he also expected the case would be appealed to the Supreme Court even if the law hadn’t passed the state legislature on Sept. 11.

“I expect Jay Nixon to defend our position vigorously,” he said.

Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia, who voted against the law, said she was somewhat surprised because she thought Attorney General Jay Nixon expressed confidence that the law would stand up to the constitution.

“I am pleased with any additional delay in implementing a law that is bad public policy and potentially harmful to the people of Missouri,” she said.

Wilson also said the law contains “arbitrary distinctions” by prohibiting concealed guns in arenas holding 5,000 or more people while allowing guns in smaller arenas where small children might be present.

State Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, said he agrees with the judge’s decision to block the law. Jacob said the language of the bill violates the state’s constitution and should not pass without a public referendum.

“There’s the whole concept and there’s the bill itself that’s so bad, so poorly written and so unconstitutional,” he said. “To me, you cannot pass a law without the vote of the people.”

Jacob said he would favor legislation that would allow police officers to conceal weapons in some cases.

“I think a bill could be crafted that would be acceptable, but it would have a much more narrow scope than anything we’ve seen before,” he said.

Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, could not be reached for comment Sunday.

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