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article imageA Constitutional showdown looms in Missouri

By Rob Lafferty     Feb 19, 2013 in Politics
Newly proposed bills would defend the Second Amendment by violating the First Amendment while creating a new felony offense.
If Missouri state Rep. Mike Leara were to get his way, his colleagues could come under arrest and spend up to four years in jail if they advocate laws that restrict gun rights.
Leara, a Republican who serves St. Louis County, filed his proposed new law, House Bill 633, on Feb.18. The language in the bill would make members of the Legislature guilty of a felony offense simply by proposing any law that would, in his opinion, contradict the Second Amendment right to own and posses guns.
"I filed H.B.633 as a matter of principle and as a statement in defense of the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians," Leara said after filing his proposal. "I have no illusions about the bill making it through the legislative process, but I want it to be clear that the Missouri House will stand in defense of the people's constitutional right to keep and bear arms."
A Constitutional challenge would be likely if Lear’s proposal actually became law. First Amendment rights to free speech would be infringed by his restriction, and those types of laws are usually rulled unconstitutional by Federal courts.
Leara's measure is just one of several gun-related proposals on the table in in the state Legislature. He filed his paperwork after state Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-St. Louis, introduced H.B.545, a piece of legislation that would require current owners of semi-automatic rifles to move their guns out of Missouri or surrender them to law enforcement within 90 days. Three other Democrats in the legislature have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.
The “Assault Weapons and Large Capacity Magazines” measure would prohibit any person or corporation from manufacturing, importing, possessing, purchasing, selling or transferring what it defines as assault weapons or large capacity magazines that carry more than ten rounds of ammunition. It would impose a Class C felony on anyone who violates its restrictions.
Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, believes that President Obama can and will issue executive orders that restrict access to firearms, which he says will punish people who use guns responsibly.
Guernsey wants to borrow a page from Wyoming lawmakers who claim that the federal government lacks the authority to interfere with state's rights when it comes to citizens bearing arms. His bill would make it a Class D felony for Missouri authorities or firearms dealers to enforce any federal law relating to personal guns or ammunition. Several other Republicans lawmakers have signed onto the measure.
"This legislation needs to be enacted, and I think other states need to assert their Tenth Amendment rights for self government and being independent on issues that are not for control of the federal government – and certainly gun control is not one of those issues," Guernsey said.
Guernsey’s bill must pass through committee before it comes up for debate, but he’s confident it will pass with the support of a Republican majority in Missouri's House and Senate.
Gov. Jay Nixon didn’t respond directly to any of the proposed new laws, saying only that his focus would remain on an expansion of mental health services as the best way to address the gun violence problem.
Rep. Eric Burlison, also a Republican, posted a video last week on YouTube under the title "2nd Amendment Puts Holes In HB545." In his video, Burlison interviews people who have negative opinions about Ellinger's bill. The clip includes one citizen using a rifle to shoot five holes in a printed copy of H.B.545, with Burlison agreeing that the bill makes for “…great target practice.”
Social media and Internet bloggers quickly lit up cyberspace with their reactions to both proposals.
Gina Miller, writing for RenewAmerica.com, stated, “When it comes to our God-given, constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, the American people aren't messing around, and the criminal, communist administration in Washington knows it.”
More about Gun control, gun control legislation, Constitution, Assault weapons, Weapons ban
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