JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri is not positioned to follow the lead of two eastern states due to the late introduction of two gun safety bills, say several legislators.
Maryland and Massachusetts both recently passed laws requiring the locks to be on all guns. Smith and Wesson agreed to include locks with the sale of all new fire arms.
But in Missouri, the safety-lock proposal is not likely to go anywhere, said the House Public Safety Committee Chairman, Rep. Don Kissell, D-St. Peters.
Kissell said the House will not consider gun locks because of a lack of space in this year's already overcrowded legislative agenda, known as the calendar.
"There aren't any more slots for House bills," Kissell said.
Sen. Betty Sims, R-St. Louis County, sponsor of a similar Senate bill, said she wants to attach this legislation to another bill as an amendment. This will be difficult, she said, given the lack of safety bills this session.
"I will do everything in my power to get a bill out to get debate going," Sims said.
In his State of the State address in January, Gov. Mel Carnahan had urged lawmakers to pass safety locks. But it was not until the first days of March that any bills were introduced.
Jerry Nachtigal, a spokesman for the governor, said the bills' late entry was due to a need to find consensus among legislators on the issue, and not because of lack of support among lawmakers.
"It was a matter of getting everyone on the same page," Nachtigal said.
The Senate version of the bill was voted out of committee, but the committees chair Sen. Harold Caskey, D-Butler, has not reported the bill before the Senate. A spokesman for Caskey said the Senate was already too busy to be considering new legislation this late in the session.
Last year, Caskey's delay in reporting his committee's approval of legislation to lower the blood-alcohol level for drunken driving effectively killed the measure for that year. This year, Caskey has sponsored the DWI bill.
Rep. Yvonne Wilson, D-Kansas City, said she supported the legislation to increase gun safety.
"I am not interested in taking guns out of the hands of homeowners, but I am more interested in protecting children," Wilson said.
The National Rifle Association, gripped in a bitter battle with the Clinton Administration over similar proposals,
Gun locks won't increase safety, said Jim Manown, a spokesman for the NRA. Many guns can still be fired with the locks on, he said.
"It all depends on the type of lock and the type of gun," Manown said.