State Republican lawmakers rally against federal gun laws
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State Republican lawmakers rally against federal gun laws

Date: January 16, 2013
By: Matthew Patane
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 162, HB 170, SB 150

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Republican lawmakers are calling for action against new presidential proposals for greater limits and regulations on guns.

President Barack Obama called for a prohibition on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines Wednesday, citing recent incidents such as those in Newton, Conn. and Aurora, Colo. The Democratic president's proposals comprised 23 executive orders, which include greater mandates for background checks on gun sales as well as conducting research into the causes of gun violence.

Before the president was even able to speak, however, one Republican senator called on his colleagues to uphold "the rule of law" and be wary of any action coming from the federal government in regards to the Second Amendment.

"Everyone in this room, everyone in this building, in this state, in this country should watch with great anticipation and skepticism about what comes out of that process," Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said. "Because potentially what we are looking at is the erosion of a fundamental right of every citizen of the United States through an unprecedented mechanism of executive order."

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said she commends the president for his action on military weapons, the discussion over guns should be expanded to handguns, as well.

"Throughout this country, you have more people dieing from handguns than military weapons," Nasheed said. "In my neighborhood, we don't see the AK-47s. We see the 9 mms, the .380s, and those are guns that are actually inflicting death and destruction in our communities."

Schaefer's Senate-floor speech came just moments after a fellow Republican, Sen. Brian Munzlinger, introduced a bill making it a felony to enforce any executive order or federal law that bans the possession of a semiautomatic firearm, among other provisions. The bill also makes it a felony for federal agents to enforce any gun law that is more restrictive than laws in effect on Dec. 31, 2012.

"I think it's a sad day because of the Constitutional provisions and I fell that they're trampling on our Constitution," Munzlinger, of Williamstown, said. "I think there are other states picking up on this issue and I think you'll see a groundswell of support for ideas like this."

Munzlinger's proposal is only one of a few others by Republicans that attempt to nullify federal restrictions on the ownership and sale of guns.

Rep. Chrissy Sommer, R-St. Charles, has filed a bill that exempts guns made in Missouri that stay in the state from federal laws while Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, has filed a bill similar to Munzlinger's.

"(The bill) puts Missouri in a great position to defend ourselves as a state against the coming encroachment of that Second Amendment to keep and bear arms," Guernsey told a Missouri Digital News reporter on Tuesday.

Even though courts have ruled that federal law override state law, bills ordering the nullification of federal laws, such as the Obama's health care law, are not new for Missouri's Republican-controlled General Assembly. During last year's legislative session lawmakers approved and overrode a veto by Gov. Jay Nixon of a bill requiring health insurance providers to exclude coverage of birth control for religious and moral reasons. A federal judge blocked that law, however, since it conflicts with federal law.

"We try (nullification) a lot here," Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, said, referencing past action by state lawmakers against the federal health care law.

Although Ellinger said he supports the president's proposals, he added that it should not have taken recent events to start the discussion.

"I'm disappointed that we had to wait so long to move, when some days in Chicago they lose four, five kids a night. Why didn't we move then?" Ellinger said. "But I'm glad we're moving now."

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