The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives advanced two more pro-gun measures this week in an effort to compete with neighboring Kansas as a new home for the nation's gun industry.
The House gave preliminary approval to legislation that would prohibit the enforcement of federal gun laws on all guns that are made and stay in Missouri, similar to a law enacted in April in Kansas. In addition, lawmakers included an amendment into an economic development bill that would give tax breaks to gun manufacturers that relocate to Missouri. The measure comes a week after the Missouri House passed legislation that would make it a felony to enforce all federal gun rules enacted after Jan. 1, 2013.
State Rep. Bill White (R-Joplin), who sponsored the gun tax-credit amendment, told The Huffington Post that his specific goal was to compete with Kansas for the gun and ammunition industry. Kansas has an unfair advantage in luring the gun industry away from states with stricter gun laws, he said.
"I did this because my district is Joplin and I live four miles from Kansas," White said. "We are at a disadvantage with our tax structure and Kansas' labor laws. It is difficult for people to look at Missouri."
White plans on reaching out to gun industry leaders to explain why they should move to Missouri. He said he has heard gun companies are seeking to leave Colorado and Connecticut after the enactment of stricter gun laws in those states, a claim reiterated by lawmakers in Kansas and Oklahoma.
Kansas state Rep. Brett Hildabrand (R-Shawnee), who sponsored his state's new gun enforcement ban, stressed that the law will appeal to gun industry.
"I am hoping that we can cash in on some of this," Hildabrand said. "We're different from Missouri and I think our overall business climate in Kansas can entice these companies."
Hildabrand said that while the two states could engage in a battle for the gun industry -- rehashing a 150-year-plus border war between the two states on everything from slavery to jobs to sports -- he also can envision a new gun corridor developing in the two states and nearby Oklahoma. He said with the Northeast favoring stricter gun laws, he sees a pro-Second Amendment Midwest that would be favorable to the industry
The gun enforcement bans made in Kansas could come under constitutional scrutiny, however. Robert Cottrol, a law professor at George Washington University, told HuffPost in April that the idea would not be exempt from federal interstate commerce laws since the gun industry is national. Hildabrand has said that the ban is constitutional since the guns would not leave one state.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) in late April advising him that the state's new gun law is unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Holder said that states could not override the federal government.
Missouri state Rep. Chrissy Sommer (R-St. Charles), the sponsor of that state's ban, did not return a call for comment.
Democrats in Missouri are largely opposed to pro-gun bills. State Rep. Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) described the Republicans as "wilder and wilder" and said Republicans are just focused on backing the National Rifle Association and trying to beat Kansas.
"I think it is a reaction to what Kansas has done with the taxes. It is all based on the hysteria that if we don't do the same thing as Kansas all the individuals will flee to Kansas," Newman said. "Add to that the birther tea party majority and the NRA influence with the majority party. They are trying to find every way available as they try to provide monetary advantages to the gun industry."
Newman said the only industry the bills will help is trial attorneys who will be fighting court battles on the issue. She also questioned what more Missouri Republicans can propose to be pro-gun.
"It is to the point now where they can say 'arm every child.' Will they think that's OK?" she said.
Related on HuffPost:
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
"I wish to God she had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids," Gohmert said of slain principal Dawn Hochsprung on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/louie-gohmert-guns_n_2311379.html"><em>Fox News Sunday</em></a>. He argued that shooters often choose schools because they know people will be unarmed.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)
"If people were armed, not just a police officer, but other school officials that were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would be an opportunity to stop an individual trying to get into the school," he <a href="http://www.wtop.com/610/3162096/Gov-Is-it-time-to-arm-school-officials">told WTOP's "Ask the Governor" show</a> Tuesday, warning that Washington may respond to such a policy with a "knee-jerk reaction."
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) & State Sen. Frank Niceley (R)
Gov. Haslam says he will consider a Tennessee plan to secretly arm and train some teachers, <a href="http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/12/tennessee-armed-teachers.php">TPM reports</a>. The legislation will be introduced by State Sen. Frank Niceley (R) next month. "Say some madman comes in. The first person he would probably try to take out was the resource officer. But if he doesn’t know which teacher has training, then he wouldn’t know which one had [a gun]," Niceley told TPM. "These guys are obviously cowards anyway and if someone starts shooting back, they’re going to take cover, maybe go ahead and commit suicide like most of them have."
Oklahoma State Rep. Mark McCullough (R) & State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R)
State Rep. Mark McCullough (R) <a href="http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=336&articleid=20121217_336_0_OKLAHO168827">told the Tulsa World</a> he plans to file legislation that would bring guns into schools, calling their absence "irresponsible." “It is incredibly irresponsible to leave our schools undefended – to allow mad men to kill dozens of innocents when we have a very simple solution available to us to prevent it," he said. "I’ve been considering this proposal for a long time. In light of the savagery on display in Connecticut, I believe it’s an idea whose time has come." Sen. Ralph Shortey (R) told the Tulsa World that teachers should carry concealed weapons at school events. "Allowing teachers and administrators with concealed-carry permits the ability to have weapons at school events would provide both a measure of security for students and a deterrent against attackers," he said.
Florida State Rep. Dennis Baxley (R)
Baxley, who once sponsored Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law, <a href="http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2012/12/17/florida-legislator-allow-guns-in-schools/">told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune </a>that keeping guns out of schools makes them a target for attacks. “We need to be more realistic at looking at this policy," he said. "In our zealousness to protect people from harm we’ve created all these gun-free zones and what we’ve inadvertently done is we’ve made them a target. A helpless target is exactly what a deranged person is looking for where they cannot be stopped.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)
At a Tea Party event Monday night, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/18/rick-perry-guns-in-schools_n_2322185.html">Perry praised a Texas school system that allows some staff to carry concealed weapons to work</a> and encouraged local school districts to make their own policies.
Minnesota State Rep. Tony Cornish (R)
Cornish <a href="http://www.kdlt.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22736&Itemid=57">plans to introduce legislation that would allow teachers to arm themselves</a>, according to the AP.
Oregon State Rep. Dennis Richardson (R)
In an email <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/oregon-state-rep-dennis-richardson-teacher-guns-stopped-connecticut-shooting_n_2317444.html?ir=Education">obtained by Gawker</a> and excerpted below, Richardson tells three superintendents that he could have saved lives had he been armed and in Sandy Hook on Friday: <blockquote>If I had been a teacher or the principal at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and if the school district did not preclude me from having access to a firearm, either by concealed carry or locked in my desk, most of the murdered children would still be alive, and the gunman would still be dead, and not by suicide. ... [O]ur children's safety depends on having a number of well-trained school employees on every campus who are prepared to defend our children and save their lives?</blockquote>
Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett
"And I'm not so sure -- and I'm sure I'll get mail for this -- I'm not so sure I wouldn't want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing," Bennett, who served as education secretary under Ronald Reagan, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/bill-bennett-education-secretary-connecticut-shooting_n_2311774.html">told <em>Meet the Press</em> Sunday</a>. "The principal lunged at this guy. The school psychologist lunged at the guy. It has to be someone who's trained, responsible. But, my god, if you can prevent this kind of thing, I think you ought to."