There are almost two dozen pieces of proposed legislation concerning firearms this session in the Missouri legislature. While I cannot tackle each one, I wish to highlight three bills.
As a reminder to my regular readers and for those of you just discovering the Opinion page, I am a gun owner and used to sell firearms.
I am also an advocate of reasonable gun laws that will keep firearms out of the hands of felons, abusers, underage individuals, straw buyers and terrorists — foreign and domestic.
Allow me to start with the Supremacy Clause. The “Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Paragraph 2, establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law generally, take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions.”
The Second Amendment states that “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
The Second Amendment is not absolute. Because there was no standard of spelling or grammar in 1789, we can argue that the language could have been better, but like the other amendments in the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment should and does have restrictions.
So why would three of our Republican state legislators, Sen. Eric Burlison, Rep. Jered Taylor and Rep. Bishop Davidson, representing Christian and Greene counties, want to write laws that are in apparent violation of the Constitution? I really do not know.
SB 39, HB 85 and HB 310 essentially say the same thing. They declare “as invalid all federal laws that infringe on the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution.” The laws would also require state and local “courts and law enforcement agencies to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”
HB 85 and HB 310 go further, stating that any law officer who seeks to enforce federal laws restricting the Second Amendment “may be permanently ineligible to serve as a law enforcement officer or to supervise law enforcement officers in this state or in any political subdivision of this state.” Both bills are now on their way to the state Senate.
These three pieces of legislation appear to be in direct violation of the intent of the Constitution. They would surely be shot down by the federal courts. So, why would they propose such laws?
District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. the City of Chicago, as well as numerous lower court cases, declared that the right to bear arms is not without limitations. As Steven Grossman wrote in an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun: “Reasonable laws limiting the possession and sale of certain guns are clearly not violative of the Second Amendment.”
Grossman concludes, “Yes, that might result in some delay and paperwork, but such is a reasonable price to pay to prevent felons and terrorists from purchasing weapons of death.” I fully agree with this statement.
For example, how easy is it to convert a semi-automatic AR-15 to fully automatic? In a simple search on YouTube, I found nearly 20 videos on how to make the conversion. Some of these are as short as a minute and a half.
As of today, YouTube has either deleted or modified most of these videos, but there is still enough information to make the conversion.
I must admit it is fun to shoot a fully automatic weapon, but from a practical standpoint there is no reason to make such a conversion. Unless, of course, you believe you need such a weapon as protection from an overreaching government. Ah, conspiracy theorists.
The fact remains that the AR-15/M-16 was designed for military combat. This also holds true for many other semi-automatic rifles and machine pistols currently on the market.
There is no logical reason to claim that you own a semi-automatic rifle for hunting.
There is no logical reason why the “gun show loophole” should not be closed, requiring that all sales of firearms at gun shows be subject to the federal background check.
There is no logical reason why private sales should not be subject to the same requirements as a sale from a licensed dealer.
This does not mean we will take your guns away, unless of course you are a terrorist, felon or abuser.
The fact remains that, according to the Pew Research Center, over 60% of Americans believe that gun laws should be more restrictive, with less than 30% believing that the current laws are too restrictive.
So, are these proposed laws merely based on the unreasonable fear of the government taking over or being confronted by a “bad guy?” I believe they are and need to be voted down by our state senators for public safety.