STL Post-Dispatch: GOP sends gun bills to Nixon

By Kurt Erickson St. Louis Post-Dispatch May 13, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY • Missouri lawmakers made their final push to loosen state gun laws Friday, sending Gov. Jay Nixon an 11th hour plan to make it legal for people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

The 72-page proposal also includes an expansion of Missouri’s self-defense laws by allowing a person to use deadly force in public places if they believe a reasonable threat exists.

“If you’re going to attack somebody you’ve got to pay the consequences,” said Republican Rep. Galen Higdon of St. Joseph.

The measure drew heated opposition from Democrats who were unable to block the GOP majority from advancing the legislation. It moved out both chambers with enough votes to override a veto of the governor — 24-8 in the Senate and 114-36 in the House.

Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, said a heavily armed Missouri would take the state back to the 1800s.

“What kind of world do we want to live in?” Holsman said. “Isn’t it our job to make our citizens safe?”

Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, who sponsored the proposal, said he sought the changes to help people protect themselves and their families.

Under the permit-less carry provision, for example, people could legally carry a concealed firearm anywhere they now can carry guns openly.

The proposal would expand the so-called “castle doctrine,” which allows a person to use deadly force to defend themselves at home or on their property. House guests, such as a baby sitter, also would be covered if an intruder entered a home.

“We already have a gun violence epidemic,” said Rep. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights.

“This law is a shoot first, ask questions later,” added Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, who was among the eight Democrats in the Senate who opposed the expansion.

Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, said the “stand your ground” measure would ensure people don’t suffer legal repercussions for defending themselves.

“We’re going to give that added level of protection to those who are attacked,” Dixon said.

“I should be able to protect my Second Amendment rights, protect my family,” said Rep. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg.

Gun control organizations said the action was disappointing and urged Nixon to veto the legislation.

“This bill would dismantle our current law and make it easier for dangerous people to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public while also turning everyday conflicts into deadly encounters by emboldening people to shoot rather than resolving disagreements in another way,” said Becky Morgan of Columbia, leader of the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Police groups also have expressed concern about the changes, including the Fraternal Order of Police. The head of the Missouri FOP earlier said permit-less carry was “ludicrous” and could lead to untrained citizens carrying guns down St. Louis streets.

Rep. Kim Gardner, D-St. Louis, said the change could endanger law enforcement personnel.

“It puts them at risk,” Gardner said.

The legislation is Senate Bill 656.

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