Gun control issues have reached northeast Missouri politicians, leading to two pieces of legislation that address President Barack Obama’s 23 executive orders about background checks and gun safety and control.
Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-18, sponsored Senate Bill 150 last month. Rep. Nate Walker, R-3, co-sponsored House Bill 170. Both bills seek to accomplish similar goals: to make the restriction of semi-automatic firearms and magazines, or the mandate of semi-automatic firearms and magazines registration, unenforceable throughout Missouri, according to each bill’s language.
These bills also classify any federal official, agent or employee who attempts to enforce any federal regulation about personal firearms guilty of a class D felony. Additionally, SB150 classifies any state official who does the same thing guilty of a class A felony.
Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-2, who sponsored HB170, said the bill seeks to counter the efforts by the Obama administration to “water down” the Second Amendment rights of the people.
“Anytime we have a president who is willing to erode our constitutional rights in the manner that he is, regardless of anyone’s position on gun control or the Second Amendment, we ought to be concerned,” Guernsey said.
Randy Hagerty, political science department chair, said these two pieces of legislation are a few of many bills that have started appearing across the country since the executive orders were announced.
However, he said the viability of these bills is slim.
“Obviously, any attempt of the State to override a federal law or policy when the national government is acting in its proper scope is unconstitutional,” Hagerty said. “National laws and actions take precedence over state ones.”
The motivation behind the bill, Hagerty said, is political, as people in rural areas are beginning to think Obama is out of touch and hostile to their values. He said ultimately this is an emotional reaction driven by politics.
Hagerty said the first court to hear the case would strike the bill down if it were to be pushed through the legislature.
“There’s no justification, constitutionally or legally,” he said.
Walker said he thinks the House Bill has potential to reach Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk sometime before the end of session.
“This bill isn’t addressing federal statute or federal law,” Walker said. “It’s addressing executive orders. This may or may not be constitutional, but it’s at least a firm statement that we’re not going to follow any executive orders that are contrary to what Missourians would want.”
The House Bill currently is still in committee, but Walker said he expects it to be heard during the next week or two. The Senate Bill was heard by the General Laws committee Tuesday.
With additional reporting by Sarah-Wonder Agbehia