Missouri Legislature overrides Nixon’s veto of gun bill

By Paul Thompson

Northeast News

September 15, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Missouri Legislature overrode a veto from Governor Jay Nixon on gun rights measure Senate Bill 656 during the September 14 veto session, and the full legislation is now set to become law by January 1, 2017.

The Senate voted to override the veto by a vote of 24-6; the house voted to override by a vote of 112-41. SB656 lowers the age of qualification for a Carrying a Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit from 21 years of age to 19. It also expands gun rights in self-defense situations, allows Missouri residents more leeway when protecting their homes, and perhaps most importantly, allows citizens who are legally allowed to possess a firearm to do so for self-defense without first obtaining a permit.

NRA spokesperson Lars Dalseide told the Northeast News on Thursday, September 15 that the passage of SB656 is a victory for law-abiding citizens in Missouri.

“We think that Missouri is going to definitely benefit from this,” said Dalseide. “We saw a great deal of support out there in a number of counties and regions throughout Missouri.”

Dalseide added that for the Missouri residents he spoke with regarding SB656, the right to carry without a permit was the driving force behind their support of the legislation.

“Now, thanks to this override, they’re going to find more freedom in their ability to exercise their second amendment rights,” said Dalseide. “It gives people the opportunity to defend themselves in whatever manner they feel most comfortable with.”

Kansas City area CCW instructor Don Pind, a retired police officer who received his training credentials from the NRA in 1972, expressed concerns about the legislation when reached on the morning of Thursday, September 15.

“If you talk to most gun shops, they’re probably going to love it. They believe that it will help business,” said Pind. “I disagree with it, and I disagreed with it when they started.”

The issue for Pind is how SB656 removes the requirement for Missouri residents to receive proper training before carrying a concealed weapon. He said that in his decades of training experience, he’s never had a student tell him his classes weren’t helpful.

“Most of them tell me that it was very informative, and that they learned something from it,” said Pind.

Pind added that some of the biggest mistakes made during his CCW courses are committed by individuals who are experienced gun owners.

“It’s always the guy that knows what he’s doing that’s making mistakes,” Pind said. “His uncle took him out and taught him how to shoot a pistol, and he thinks he’s Wyatt Earp.”

Another issue Pind noted is that while 19-year-old’s in Missouri will now be legally able to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, federal law still prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing a handgun. Pind stated his belief that Missouri’s CCW law should match the federal age limit. He further compared the notion of letting a 19-year-old carry a concealed weapon without proper training to allowing a 13-year-old to get behind the wheel of a Corvette.

“My idea behind it is if this is what you think is right, then we need to stop having tests for driving licenses,” said Pind. “I just can’t see turning people loose without any training at all. I don’t think the state of Missouri was really thinking when they did this.”

Governor Nixon’s veto of the bill was overturned despite calls from Kansas City area leaders to strike down the legislation. On Tuesday, September 13, KCMO Mayor Sly James, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp, and Deputy Chief of Police Cheryl Rose gathered at Kansas City’s Rose Brooks domestic violence shelter to urge Missouri legislators to sustain the veto. According to Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp, the authority given to the sheriff’s office to deny CCW permits has allowed the county to prevent some 900 potentially dangerous individuals from carrying a gun.

During her rebuke of the legislation, Rose noted that the vast majority of the city’s homicides this year have been committed with a firearm.

“As of today, Kansas City has had 82 homicides, and almost 89% of them have been committed with a firearm,” said Rose. “Any legislation that would hamper law enforcement’s ability to get guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them is a detriment to our city.”

Dalseide, however, pointed to statistics from other states to show that permit-less carry can actually have a positive impact on homicide rates.

“We’ve seen similar legislation pass in a number of other states,” said Dalseide. “If you look at what happened in Arizona, permit-less carry was passed in 2010, and the latest numbers from their crime report show that the number of firearm-related homicides decreased by 1/3.”

Indeed, the Arizona Department of Public Safety reported 224 firearm-related murders in 2010 – the year the state made carrying a concealed weapon without a permit legal – compared to 159 such murders in 2014. When specifically singling out handguns, the Department of Public Safety recorded 152 homicides in 2010. Four years later in 2014, the department reported 122 murders committed with a handgun; a decrease of just under 20%.

Still, legislation opponents like KCMO Mayor Sly James harbor concerns about how the law will affect Kansas City.

“I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that the Legislature voted to override the veto on SB 656,” said James in a statement released on Thursday, September 15. “This is a step in the wrong direction and will only make it more difficult to cut down on violent crime in our city. I’m tremendously grateful to the law enforcement community and other stakeholders who joined our efforts to fight this bill. We may have lost this round but the safety of our families is worth the fight.”

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