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Nixon Vetoes Bill That Blocked Enforcement Of Federal Gun Laws, Jones Says He'll Vote To Override

A gun show in Houston, Texas, in 2007.
M Glasgow | Flickr

Governor Jay Nixon has vetoed a bill that would have blocked Missouri officials from enforcing federal gun laws, saying it would violate the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution.

House Bill 436 declared federal gun laws invalid because gun regulation is not a power granted to the federal government by the Constitution. In addition, the bill lowered the age for concealed carry permits to 19 and allowed those with valid CCW permits to openly carry weapons, even when prohibited by local ordinance.

Nixon's veto message laid out the legal and historical arguments for the supremacy clause. He also argued that the legislation violates the First Amendment by making it a crime to publish the names of firearms owners:

"There is no shortage of unacceptable scenarios that could result from this provision. As one example, newspapers around the state annually publish photos of proud young Missourians who harvest their first turkey or deer. Under this bill, doing so would be a crime. Also, and somewhat ironically, a reporter who prints a photo of a local rally being held in support of gun rights could face up to a year in jail or a thousand dollar fine, or both.

Nixon did, however, sign legislation that allows a full-time fire chief to carry a concealed weapon, and allows state employees to have a gun in their cars on state property as long as the vehicle is locked and the gun is concealed.

Republican House Speaker Tim Jones responded that he was "shocked" that Nixon would veto the bill, saying the Democratic governor is usually a supporter of gun rights.

"He generally has been an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment. I think he made a political, calculated move to veto House Bill 436," Jones said. "I really don't know what got to him other than special interest groups on the left."

Jones brushed aside Nixon's criticism of the bill: that it harkens back to the Civil War-era concept of nullification.

“The governor’s legal theories on this are just that: legal theories," Jones said. "They are not the current state of the law of the land. Congress can pass all the laws, but it doesn’t make them de facto constitutional.”

Jones added that he believes the Supreme Court would find the bill to be constitutional. Republicans will caucus soon to decide which bills to attempt an over-ride, but Jones said he will at least be voting to over-ride this one.

"But my opinion aside, I think a super-majority of Missourians want us to over-ride," Jones said.

Legislators would have enough votes to over-ride in September's veto session, provided all lawmakers vote the same way they did in May.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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