The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature passed the nation's most extreme gun protection bill, along with bans on Islamic law and the United Nations sustainability agenda, during a late-night session Wednesday.
Under the gun measure, lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to nullify all federal gun laws in the state, while allowing some teachers to carry guns in schools. The bill also says some teachers who do not carry guns can be fired, while providing them with limited arrest powers.
The gun bill's passage followed passage of the sustainability and Sharia, or Islamic law, bans. All three bills now move to Gov. Jay Nixon (D) for his consideration. A Nixon spokesman said he did not have a comment until the governor reviewed the bills.
Senate Majority Whip Brian Nieves (R-Washington) trumpeted the bills on Facebook late Wednesday night, describing the gun bill as the "most hard core piece of Second Amendment legislation in the nation."
"Tonight (Wed) was an historic night for Missouri and her citizens," Nieves wrote. "Our private property rights, our court system, and the assertion of our 2nd amendment rights were all impacted positively by the final passage of three of my 2013 Bills!"
During the House debate, Rep. Doug Funderburk (R-St. Peters) stressed the need for the gun bill and said residents of Boston would have wanted to be armed during the manhunt for the marathon bombing suspects.
“I bet those folks in Boston wish they had guns in their home when terrorists were running around with bombs," he said.
Under the terms of the gun bill, all federal gun laws would be banned in Missouri; enforcing such laws would be a misdemeanor, a change from a previous provision that made enforcement a felony. The bill would allow for the open carry of all guns 16 inches or smaller in the state.
The legislation also has provisions to allow school districts to designate teachers and administrators as "school protection officers," with rights to carry guns and provide security services during the school day. Under the terms of the law, a teacher who is designated to carry a gun, but does not bring one, could be fired. School protection officers also could detain for up to four hours anyone they believe is violating the law, before turning the individual over to law enforcement.
The bill would make it illegal to require doctors to ask during exams about gun ownership. (The American Academy of Pediatrics urges the question to promote child safety.) Similar legislation passed in Florida, but was ruled unconstitutional.
Rep. Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) told her colleagues they had turned Missouri into a "laughing stock."
“I’m surprised we went three whole days here without a gun bill. I take offense here at the bill sponsor’s remarks that what was added will improve the quality of life for those dealing with gun violence," she said. "I don’t know why this body continues to turn its back and make fun of gun violence victims. It’s not a funny matter. I don’t find it amusing.”
Rep. Paul Curtman (R-Pacific) said Republicans are not making fun of gun victims.
The gun bill passed with enough votes to override a veto by Nixon, but it could bring legal challenges. United States Attorney General Eric Holder last week warned Kansas officials that their new state law that says federal gun laws do not apply to guns within the state made in Kansas was unconstitutional, a charge Kansas officials deny.
The gun debate followed the passage of two bills banning Islamic law and the sustainability plan known as Agenda 21. Supporters said the sustainability ban was needed to prohibit the U.N. from seizing private property in the state, while the Islamic law bill is needed to prevent foreign laws in Missouri. Agenda 21 was signed in 1992 but has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate and is not law in the U.S.
Opponents of the Sharia bill noted that it could hurt international business deals and block residents from adopting children from foreign countries.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the aspect of the gun bill pertaining to doctors. The bill would make it illegal to require doctors to ask patients about gun ownership.
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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."