JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri lawmaker is proposing to send colleagues to prison for introducing gun control legislation — a plan that even its sponsor acknowledges has no chance of passage but nonetheless highlights the increasingly strident tone of gun measures in Missouri’s generally pro-gun Legislature.
Rep. Mike Leara said Tuesday that he considers his bill a statement of principle. It would make lawmakers guilty of a felony punishable by up to four years in prison if they introduce legislation restricting gun rights.
“I have no illusions about the bill making it through the legislative process, but I want it to be clear that the Missouri House will stand in defense of the people’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” Leara, a Republican from suburban St. Louis, said in a written statement. He declined further comment.
Since last year’s deadly mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut, state and federal lawmakers have grappled with gun legislation. President Barack Obama has proposed an assault weapons ban, background checks and restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines. But Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature has taken a different approach — more guns, not less.
State Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, called Leara’s measure “unconstitutional” and said she would go directly to prison if the bill passes. Newman is the sponsor of a measure that would require guns to be sold by a licensed dealer and force that dealer to conduct a background check.
Even one of Leara’s fellow Republicans said he probably wouldn’t support the bill.