“Everybody should have a right to introduce bills, even bad ones,” said state Rep. Kevin Engler, of Farmington, a former state senator who has sponsored National Rifle Association-supported legislation in previous years.
Leara’s measure comes less than a week after St. Louis-area House Democrats introduced legislation containing an assault weapons ban. That bill would require owners of semi-automatic weapons to surrender, destroy or send their guns to another state within 90 days of the measure’s passage. Sponsoring state Rep. Rory Ellinger said he knows Missouri is a very conservative state, but he still wants a dialogue on gun safety.
Given the two-thirds Republican majority in the Legislature, the assault weapons ban probably won’t even get a committee hearing. But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from attacking the bill with fervor. Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, posted a YouTube video of a physical copy of the bill being shot with a handgun.
One lawmaker has questioned the wisdom of proposing legislation to the ideological extreme of both political parties.
“(Leara’s bill) has as much chance of passing as (the assault weapons ban). Highlights the problem with proposing bills to get attention,” tweeted Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City.
While Leara’s and Ellinger’s bill are likely dead on arrival, a state House committee moved forward Tuesday on two proposals that would curb federal gun regulation. One proposal is sponsored by Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, who said he has decided “to take swift and strong actions to counteract the federal government.” Guernsey wants to criminalize the enforcement of any federal gun control laws enacted after Jan. 1, 2013.
The second measure would prevent federal regulation of guns that are manufactured in Missouri and remain inside the state’s borders. The committee did not vote on either bill.
Even measures to address gun violence in schools have drawn out the ideological divides in the Legislature.
On Tuesday, Missouri’s Senate gave first-round approval to a proposal that would give school districts the option to teach the National Rifle Association’s gun-safety program to elementary school students and to allow teachers and other school personnel go through training on how to respond to armed intruders. The bill sponsored by Sen. Don Brown, R-Rolla, originally mandated schools implement both programs, but opposition from Democratic senators caused him to make the programs optional.
Brown’s original bill was opposed by Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis, who said it would do little to address the problem of gun violence by urban gang members whose parents don’t supervise them. She said trying to train teachers to respond to “gang bangers” is a “pretty dangerous thing,” adding that “a lot of our teachers are kind of petite.”
A Senate committee on Wednesday also considered a state constitutional amendment to broaden the right-to bear-arms by specifying that it is “inalienable.” The measure sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, would also require the state to oppose any “infringement” on that right.
The gun bill is HB633.
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