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Government, Politics & Issues

Prefiled bills spotlight divide between Democrats and GOP over gun control

(via Flickr/M Glasgow)

Several bills on both sides of the gun control debate are being proposed by Missouri lawmakers for next year's legislative session.

First, Senate Bill 589 would lift the current ban on bringing concealed firearms onto college campuses.  It's sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield.

"All the bill does is say unless (a) university provides armed guards and metal detectors at the entrances, then they cannot prohibit people from being there, essentially telling them to leave, who have been legally and lawfully permitted and trained to carry-conceal," Dixon said.

He continued, "If a 21-year-old female is assaulted or attacked, should she have the same set of rights on both sides of the street to defend herself? She should not be prohibited from having that same right on one side of the street just because it's (on) a college campus."

Dixon made a similar pitch in 2008 when he was a state representative, one year after the mass shooting at Virginia Tech.  The proposal was added as an amendment to a larger bill that passed the Missouri House, but it was later removed by the Senate.

A spokesman for the University of Missouri - Columbia declined to comment on Dixon's proposal, but he did cite the university system's policy regarding guns on campus:

"The possession of and discharge of firearms, weapons and explosives on University property including University farms is prohibited except in regularly approved programs or by University agents or employees in the line of duty."

A nearly identical bill has also been pre-filed in the state Senate by fellow Republican Brian Munzlinger of Williamstown.  It differs in that it would allow a state university or community college to ask the Department of Public Safety for an exemption, thus allowing those institutions to continue to ban guns on campus.

Other gun-friendly pre-filed bills include:

  • House Bill 1468 -- would allow anyone to carry a concealed firearm anywhere not expressly prohibited by law
  • House Bill 1586 -- would allow conceal-carry permit/endorsement holders to store their firearms in "locked" vehicles while parked in any designated parking area
  • Senate Bill 782 -- would allow conceal-carry permit/endorsement holders to carry their firearms with them on any public transportation system (excluding Amtrak)

On the other side, Democrats have pre-filed a number of bills designed to increase regulations and responsibilities of gun ownership.
For example, House Bill 1596would close the so-called gun show loophole by requiring background checks for all gun purchases and requiring that licensed dealers process every gun purchase, even those between private individuals.

It's sponsored by Rep. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights.

"Convicted abusers, felons, terrorists, and people who should not be able to purchase a weapon so freely and easily should have a background check," Newman said.

Newman cited a 2013 poll commissioned by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in which 85 percent of likely voters surveyed in Missouri said they supported background checks for all firearm sales.  It's not likely, though, that her bill will go anywhere.

"I can't even get a public hearing for law enforcement, mayors, and just regular citizens to weigh in on why the majority of people want this," she said.

She blames the gun lobby for having "bought and paid for" the Republican majority in the Missouri General Assembly.

Newman is so far sponsoring most of the pre-filed bills in the House that advocate gun control.  They also include HB 1397, which would place somewhat similar restrictions on gun buyers as those experienced by women seeking an abortion.  For example:

571.700. 1. (1) Prior to any firearm purchase in this state, a prospective firearm purchaser shall, at least seventy-two hours prior to the initial request to purchase a firearm from a licensed firearm dealer located at least one hundred twenty miles from such purchaser's legal residence, confer and discuss with a licensed physician the indicators and contraindicators and risk factors, including any physical, psychological, or situational factors, that may arise with the proposed firearm purchase. Such physician shall then evaluate the prospective firearm purchaser for such indicators and contraindicators and risk factors and determine if such firearm purchase would increase such purchaser's risk of experiencing an adverse physical, emotional, or other health reaction.

It's also not expected to get a public hearing.

Other pre-filed bills include:

  • House Bill 1595 -- would authorize "gun violence restraining orders" and "gun violence seizure warrants"
  • Senate Bill 691 -- would require reporting of lost or stolen firearms to local authorities within 72 hours
  • Senate Bill 739 -- would require parents to notify school districts that they own a firearm within 30 days of enrolling their children in school or within 30 days of becoming a gun owner

The 2016 legislative session begins Jan. 6.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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