JEFFERSON CITY — Representatives on both sides of the aisle stacked gun-related amendments to a bill Monday that would expand residents’ rights to carry and sell firearms.
House Bill 944 started with the limited goal of providing protections for farmers to defend their livestock from predators by allowing them to use firearms from a stationary vehicle on their own property.
Rep. John Wiemann, R-O’Fallon, introduced Amendment 1 to the bill, which would make firearm businesses and manufacturers essential. Wiemann said prohibiting governmental entities from restricting or reducing the operation of a firearm businesses during a state of emergency, like a pandemic, is important. A number of Democrats disagreed.
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, said the original bill was uncontroversial and if this amendment was attached to the bill, it would make the bill less bipartisan and more difficult for Democrats to digest.
“It would be really nice if we could pass something clean out of here that we can all support,” Merideth said.
Republicans weren’t the only ones who added amendments.
Rep. Mark Sharp, D-Kansas City, introduced Amendment 3 in an attempt to establish the long-discussed “Blair’s Law,” which would allow law enforcement to arrest and punish individuals who irresponsibly fire guns.
“Blair’s Law” was created following the death of an 11-year-old girl named Blair on Independence Day in 2011. Blair was struck by a stray bullet that Rep. Sharp described as a “celebratory bullet.”
Sharp explained how it is common practice in large cities like Kansas City and St. Louis to shoot firearms when sports teams win, for birthday celebrations and other celebratory occasions. And the police in these cities have no guidelines for how to react to these celebratory flying bullets.
“Right now, people are scared to even drive around their neighborhoods or go out in their backyards with their families because people are shooting off guns so much,” Sharp said. “The police right now, their hands are tied.” Sharp said it is necessary to “give the police the teeth” to go after individuals who are making neighborhoods unsafe.
The amendment has bipartisan support.
“I am in favor of this. This might be a shock to some, as I am one of the most pro-Second Amendment Republicans we have,” Rep. Dottie Bailey, R-Eureka, said. “Shooting your gun up in the air as a celebratory practice is ridiculous.”
Rep. Ben Baker, R-Neosho, proposed an amendment to include language concerning carrying firearms in churches.
Baker said pastors and church leaders should not be responsible for deciding whether individuals with concealed carry permits can bring guns to places of worship.
Baker’s amendment complicated the bipartisan legislation that had been proposed in Sharp’s amendment.
“I don’t understand why we have to make a good bill into a partisan fight,” Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, said. “Blair’s Law was bipartisan. And now you’re attaching an amendment that goes against the (sanctity) of the church? We are not supposed to have firearms on sacred ground.”
This amendment also lowered the age for concealed carry permits from 19 to 18.