The husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords praised a Missouri Senate vote Wednesday night that will preserve federal gun laws in the state.
Mark Kelly, cofounder with Giffords of Americans for Responsible Solutions, applauded the Republican-controlled Senate's decision to uphold Gov. Jay Nixon's (D) veto of a bill that said certain federal gun laws did not apply in Missouri. The Senate fell one vote shy of the 23 votes (22-14) needed to override Nixon's veto and for the bill to become law. The Republican-controlled state House of Representatives voted earlier on Wednesday to override Nixon's veto.
In his statement, Kelly praised more than 1,500 Missouri residents who signed a petition to lawmakers calling for Nixon's veto to be sustained. Kelly stressed that members of ARS, which promoted the petition, believe in protecting the "American right and tradition" of gun ownership but said it should be "exercised responsibly."
Under the terms of the vetoed legislation, federal agents enforcing federal gun laws would have been subject to arrest, and the publication of gun owners' names would have been prohibited. Opponents argued that it would have allowed machine guns in the state, a claim the bill sponsor denied. They also said the bill would imperil joint state and federal law enforcement efforts.
"The radical and inaccurately named Second Amendment Protection Act would have ended background checks in Missouri, allowed unregulated ownership of machine guns, and sanctioned the arrest of law enforcement men and women for trying to stop criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring firearms," Kelly said.
Wednesday's Senate vote capped contentious debates in both chambers, with supporters of the Protection Act saying it was an effort by the state to stop an overreaching federal government and protect Missouri residents.
Rep. Doug Funderburk (R-St. Peters) told colleagues Wednesday that the bill could lower crime, blaming gun control laws in Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit and Washington for high murder rates.
During a Senate floor speech Wednesday, state Senate Majority Whip Brian Nieves (R-Washington), a sponsor of the bill, blamed state Attorney General Chris Koster (D) for the Senate's failure to override the governor's veto. Koster wrote a letter to lawmakers earlier this week arguing that Nixon's veto should be sustained, saying the bill would harm law enforcement.
"The federal government is that dog barking at the end of its chain that upon closer inspection has no teeth," Nieves said Wednesday night. "They are smoking it up in Colorado right now and I don't see any storm troopers. The federal government blinks every time."