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Nieves fundraising event to feature assault-rifle

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri state Sen. Brian Nieves, an outspoken leader in Jefferson City when it comes to gun rights, is attracting attention for his Oct. 12 fundraising event in Pacific that will feature a raffle for an assault rifle.

The senator is intrigued, a bit, by all the interest. "People either absolutely love the idea or absolutely hate it," said Nieves, R-Washington, in an interview. "There's very little middle ground."

Billed as “a special event honoring the true intent of our 2nd Amendment,” the daytime fundraiser is to be held at the St. Louis Trap & Skeet Club in Pacific.

The weapon to be raffled off is a Sig Sauer 516 Patrol, with the capability of firing off 5 to 30 rounds without reloading.

Nieves said that it's the first time that his campaign has raffled off an assault rifle -- but emphasized that a number of weapons -- from handguns to shotguns -- have been raffled off at previous fundraising events.

"We've done a variety over the years," Nieves said. "This is just one of many times that we've given away a firearm."

He emphasized that whoever wins the raffle won't simply walk away with the Sig Sauer. "We can't do that. That would be illegal," Nieves said.

Instead, the winner will be directed to a licensed gun dealer and will need to submit to the standard background check, he said.

Attendees at the Oct. 12 event can purchase lunch for $20 or pay $100 for lunch and shooting. Chances for the rifle are $100 apiece.

The gun-rights theme also is reflected in the sponsorship levels, which include the “$500 Sharp Shooter,” the “$1000 Marksman” and the “$1,500 Sniper.”

Nieves long has been a favorite of tea party groups, and is expected to run for re-election in 2014. He also is on some conservatives’ short lists as a possible candidate for higher office -- either statewide or Congress --office in 2016.

Will retool, refile bills on guns, foreign courts, Agenda 21

At last week’s legislative veto session, Nieves became the marquee defender of House Bill 436, which sought to prevent enforcement in Missouri of federal gun laws. The bill was narrowly killed off in the state Senate.

At a morning rally and later on the Senate floor, Nieves was an outspoken critic of Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat (previously endorsed by the NRA) who had issued a legal opinion that raised concerns about HB436.

At one point in the Senate debate, Nieves called Koster a “monster,” and took note of the attorney general’s plans to run for governor in 2016.

Two other bills sponsored by Nieves also bit the dust during the veto session:

  • One dubbed the "Sharia law" bill (SB267) because it barred any court ruling influenced by a foreign law;
  • The other (SB265) which barred any state and local agencies from partnering with "any organization accredited and enlisted by the United Nations to assist in the implementation of Agenda 21," a land development plan.

Although disappointed, Nieves offered a pragmatic view of his defeats -- and what comes next.
"I have to be a big boy. Pick myself up, dust myself off and get back at it," he said. "I'm not going to suck my thumb. I'm not going to complain."

"Certainly, I am going to refile these bills" next session, Nieves continued. But he emphasized that they will be reworked and rewritten.

"We will make some adjustments to those bills," he said. "We'll make sure, for each of the three, that the spirit of the intended law will remain the same, while at the same time trying to address some of the concerns that were made."

For example, Nieves said he sharply disagrees with Gov. Jay Nixon's contention that the foreign-law bill could affect overseas adoptions, which was one of the reasons that Nixon cited for vetoing the bill. But Nieves said that the revised version of the bill will contain new language that makes clear foreign adoptions aren't affected.

"We'll try to do what's wise. We'll try to do what's prudent," Nieves said. "I don't want to give the impression that I did not look at this whole thing as a learning experience."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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