Subscribe to Missouri Gun Rights Subscribe to Missouri Gun Rights's comments

HB294, HB123, HB125, HB113, HB271 and HB215

Posted by Michael Pearce. Comment (0).

HB294 was merged together with HB123, HB125, HB113, HB271, and HB215.  Each of these bills was previously discussed here individually.  This conglomeration of bills passed and it effects the following changes:

  • The minimum age for a concealed carry endorsement (CCW) has been reduced to 21 years (from 23 years).
  • Live fire exercises and tests for CCW applicants must use both a revolver and a semiautomatic pistol.
  • Fully automatic firearms, short barreled rifles or shotguns, and sound suppressors are now legal in Missouri so long as the possession is in conformity with federal law.
  • Weapons restricted under Missouri law are allowed if “reasonably related to a lawful dramatic performance.”
  • The official duty requirement for exceptions to unlawful use of weapons that was passed last year has been narrowed to cover discharge or threats but not possession or concealment.
  • Fire investigators have been added to the individuals excepted from unlawful use of weapons (the so-called “Only Ones”).
  • Members or employees of the General Assembly who possess a CCW may carry a concealed firearm in the state capitol building.
  • Offenders of unlawful use of weapons are not eligible for suspended sentences if they have previously received a suspended sentence.
  • Attempts to purchase firearms or ammunition in violation of federal law is a felony and may be prosecuted under Missouri statute.
  • Interstate sales of firearms is allowed so long as the transaction conforms to federal law (I believe federal law restricts interstate sales of handguns but not long guns).
  • Sales tax on firearms or ammunition cannot be levied at a higher rate than sporting goods or hunting equipment.
  • The expiration date of nondriver’s licenses containing a concealed carry endorsement will coincide with the expiration of the CCW and the fee for such a license is $3.
  • Municipalities may regulate the discharge of pneumatic guns (I need to research this more to determine whether it increases or decreases the power of local jurisdictions).

The combined bill passed in the Missouri Senate with amendments on May 11 (Yeas: 27, Nays 6) and the amended bill passed in the Missouri House of Representatives on May 13 (Ayes: 125, Noes: 25).  Since this is more than a two-thirds majority in both houses, I believe this bill will become law with or without the Governor’s signature.  Most of these changes will take effect August 28, 2011.  The changes regarding the expiration dates of nondriver’s licenses may take effect anytime between now and January 1, 2013.

HB537, introduced by Representative Todd Richardson (R), requires the sheriff or chief of police to respond within fifteen business days to any request for documentation required by federal law in connection with the purchase of a firearm.  This is a good bill.

The federal National Firearms Act restricts the purchase of certain types of firearms (fully automatic rifle, short barreled shotguns, etc) to individuals passing a number of criteria, including a criminal background check.  My understanding is that this background check can take several months.  This bill appears to be an effort to speed up this process.  When federal authorities contact the sheriff or chief of police in a jurisdiction to request documentation about the criminal background of an applicant, the provision contained in this bill would require that official to complete the response within fifteen business days.

I support this bill.

HB361 (2011): Firearms Freedom Act

Posted by Michael Pearce. Comment (0).

HB361, introduced by Representative Mike Leara (R), establishes the Missouri Firearms Freedom Act.

The Firearms Freedom Act is a declaration and recognition in Missouri law that regulation of intrastate firearms activity is beyond the authority of the federal government.  A handful of states have passed similar laws, and the BATFE has asserted (wrongly, I would say) that federal authority trumps state authority in this matter.  In short, the laws might as well not exist, and their meaning is only symbolic.  I discussed this in more detail last year when similar bills were proposed.

I support this bill, though I do not have high hopes for it.

HB341, introduced by Representative Jeanie Riddle (R), revises the law regarding petitioning for removal of disqualification to ship, transport, receive, purchase, possess, or transfer a firearm.

The law regarding the dangerously mentally ill is not my area of expertise.  However, in light of the 2011 Tucson shooting and the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, it is clear that there will be calls to reform this area of the law, particularly where it relates to access to firearms.  In fact, as I understand it, the accused shooter in the Tucson shooting, Jared Loughner, had gone through a petition process similar to this one in Arizona to ensure that he would be able to purchase firearms.

Indeed, if I may editorialize for a moment, incidents of this kind have given the pro-gun community a black eye, and it is time to move the conversation from gun control to mental health reform.  Government involvement with mental health is no less complicated an issue, but if these incidents are an indication that something needs to be done, it is here that changes should be considered.  Restricting dangerously mentally ill individuals from possessing firearms may be the one form of “reasonable regulation” I am willing to consider, but there is much room for error and overstepping authority in the subjective and poorly understood area of mental health.

HB341 replaces the existing procedure outlined in RSMO 475.375, and replaces it with a new procedure.  The language is substantially different, but an initial review of both versions reveals a few differences.  One is the recognition that few people are “cured” of mental illness, but instead their symptoms are managed, generally through drug therapy.  The new language does not give the court the ability to deny a petition without a hearing if it determines the petition is made on frivolous grounds, and it provides for the right to appeal.  Danger to self is no longer a criteria, only danger to public safety.  The new language requires the petitioner to gather and provide mental health and criminal history records, rather than the complicated system of reporting responsibilities of state employees currently defined.  The process is no longer denied to individuals who have “been found guilty by reason of mental disease or defect”.  The new language references and conforms to 18 U.S.C. Section 922(d)(4) and (g)(4), the federal law regarding these issues.

All in all, these seem like positive changes.  This procedure is less rigid, and it places more discretion in the hands of the court (which could be good or bad).

I support this bill, though it addresses only a tiny part of this conversation.

HB331, introduced by Representative Ward Franz (R), would require licensed firearms dealers to waive the NICS background check for holders of a Missouri concealed weapons endorsement.  This is a good bill, with some caveats.

HB331 would add a new section to RSMO 571, with the following language.  “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, all federally licensed firearms dealers shall waive the requirement of a NCIS background check for any person seeking to purchase a firearm who possesses a valid concealed carry endorsement issued under the provisions of this chapter.  Such dealers shall only be required to verify the validity of the concealed carry endorsement.” In theory, this would CCW holders to purchase firearms without undergoing the instant Brady background check.

Since the Missouri CCW requires a thorough criminal background check, and the CCW is to be revoked upon criminal conviction, possession of a valid CCW is a reasonable substitute for a NICS check.  This would eliminate the need for gun dealers to perform a NICS check for CCW holders.  It would also eliminate the three day delay associated with NICS misidentifications, an annoying but frequently occurring problem with the NICS system.

Since the NICS check is required by federal law, under the Brady law, I do not know that a statute of Missouri law has the legal authority to eliminate the requirement.  I do know that there are states with their own background check systems which replace NICS, so there may be some legal basis for this.  Also not clear is whether purchasers will still be required to fill out the federal form 4473 when making a purchase.  If this bill passes and becomes law, these questions will need to be answered.  Until they are, there will be confusion for gun dealers which could expose them to criminal liability.  Initially, these answers will have to come from the ATF, who are likely to render an opinion that satisfies the agenda of the current administration, rather than one that is supported by law.  It should be noted that the ATF has already stated that they do not recognize the legal authority for the various state “Firearms Freedom” acts that have become law.

It should also be noted that this bill, as introduced, incorrectly refers to “NCIS”, which is not the name of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System instituted by the Brady law.  Hopefully, this will be amended before the bill passes.

I support this bill.

HB271, introduced by Representative Eric Burlison (R), lowers the minimum age for a concealed weapon endorsement from 23 to 21 years of age.  HB294, introduced by Representative Jeanie Riddle (R), is identical.  These are good bills.

Currently, RSMO 571.101 requires that CCW endorsements are only issued to individuals who are at least 23 years of age.  This misses the age requirement for purchase of a concealable firearm, which is 21.  HB271 and HB294 change this age from 23 to 21.

(Note that RSMO 571.030 honors permits issued by other states, including to Missouri residents, regardless of age.)

This age reduction was previously approved by the Missouri House of Representatives, but was rejected by the Senate last year.

I support these bills.

Update: SB298 has been introduced by Senator Brian Munzlinger (R).  The summary states that this bill is similar, but the full bill text is not yet online for me to review.  If such a bill can be passed in the Senate, it will undoubtedly succeed in the Missouri House of Representative.

HB215, introduced by Representative Chuck Gatschenberger (R), lowers the CCW age to 21, makes CCW endorsements valid for 5 years, and authorizes out-of-state purchases of firearms.  This is a good bill.

This bill includes three changes.  It amends RSMO 571.101 to lower the minimum age for obtaining a concealed weapon endorsement from 23 to 21 years of age.  It also extends the validity of the endorsement from three years to five years.  Finally, it repeals RSMO 407.500 and 407.505, which restrict the out-of-state purchase and sale of long guns to those states which border Missouri, and enacts a broader provision that allows the out-of-state purchase and sale of long guns to another other state which also allows the transaction.

All three of these provisions were proposed last year, and for various reasons they failed to pass.

I strongly support this bill.

Update: This bill has been referred to the General Laws committee, and a hearing is scheduled for January 25 at noon.  You are urged to contact members of this committee to express your support of this bill.

HJR5, introduced by Representative Darrel Pollock (R), proposes a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right of citizens to hunt and fish.

HJR5 is a House Joint Resolution that proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Missouri, adding the text, “That the citizens of this state shall have the personal right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions as provided by law. The recognition of this right does not abrogate any private or public property rights, nor does it limit the state’s power to regulate commercial activity. Traditional manners and means may be used to take nonthreatened species.”

I am not certain what purpose this amendment serves.  There is already a strong hunting and fishing tradition in Missouri, and I am unaware of any legislative threats to these activities.  Furthermore, despite stating the right, it does not limit regulations, restrictions, private or public property rights, or state regulation of commercial activity.  As far as I can tell, this amendment does nothing.

Sadly, I believe I know the true purpose of such an amendment.  It must be voted on in the general election in November of 2012.  If it is on the ballot, it will bring out conservative voters.  Before the election, wildly conflicting information will be presented to the general public, inflaming an emotional reaction, and driving conservative voters to the polls.  This, in turn, will increase the conservative voting for all other issues, yielding an advantage to Republican candidates in races at all levels.  This is the strategy that Karl Rove used in both of George W. Bush’s election campaigns, and it has been used in other elections as well.

A similar, but not identical proposal has been made in SJR11.

SB87, introduced by Senator Mike Parson (R), would expand the gun law exemptions for peace officers beyond uses of official duty.  This is a bad bill.

Last year, HB1692, which included numerous provisions regarding firearms, was passed and made law.  Missouri law exempts peace officers and several other officials from most of the crimes described in RSMO 571.030.  HB1692 added language which restricted those exemptions to such times “when such uses are reasonably associated with or are necessary to the fulfillment of such person’s official duties.”  SB87 would repeal that provision, making the exemption applicable regardless of how or why a weapon is used.  The scope of the exemption would return to the way it was before last year.

There are those who believe law enforcement officers should be granted broad and unfettered special powers to control the rest of the population.  I am not one of those people.  While I believe in gun rights, I do not believe they should be reserved exclusively to a special class of people.  While I value the services provided by law enforcement agencies, I believe they should be held closely accountable in regard to all of their special powers.

In any case, an argument cannot be made that this restriction interferes with the official duties of peace officers, because the restriction limits the scope of special powers specifically to official duties.  In practice, the difference is whether peace officers are allowed and authorized to commit such acts (which are crimes for the rest of us) for purposes which are not related to their official duties.  In principle, the difference is whether peace officers are authorized for special uses of weapons, or peace officers are special people.

I do not support this bill.

HB125, introduced by Representative Jeanie Riddle (R), would allow interstate purchases of long guns to or from any other state, as long as the transaction is also legal in that state.  SB297, introduced by Senator Brian Munzlinger (R), is a similar bill.  These are good bills.

Currently under Missouri law, Missouri residents can only purchase long guns (rifles and shotguns) in Missouri or in states that border Missouri, and only residents of Missouri or states that border Missouri may purchase long guns in Missouri.  These bills would eliminate that restriction, and the only remaining restriction would be the laws of the other state.  Though the language of HB125 applies to all firearms, I believe handguns are restricted to intrastate purchases by Federal law.  SB297 specifies rifles and shotguns rather than firearms.

I support these bills.