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Gun Bill Sponsor Says Nixon, Koster Telling Half Truths in Opposition

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Attorney General says portions of a gun bill could be declared unconstitutional by federal courts should the legislature override the governor’s veto. The sponsor of the bill disagrees.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Attorney General says portions of a gun bill could be declared unconstitutional by federal courts should the legislature override the governor’s veto. The sponsor of the bill (House Bill 436) disagrees.

Attorney General Chris Koster has issued a letter saying a bill that would make it illegal to enforce federal gun laws in Missouri would likely not hold up in federal court.

Sponsor of the bill, Representative Doug Funderburk of St. Peters says Koster and Governor Nixon need to take a closer look at the bill and at current federal law … he says they are politicizing the measure.

“They are leaving out one minor part of a sentence that it has to be declared an infringement to a citizen’s constitutional right to the second amendment,” Funderburk says. “So there’s a qualifier that they’re conveniently leaving out when discussing their opposition to the bill.”

Funderburk says he expects the legislature to easily override Nixon’s veto of the measure. He says an overwhelming amount of supporters have contacted his office — from Missouri and other states. The bill has gained national attention — Missouri is the only state to have passed such a measure — and Funderburk has subsequently drawn support and opposition to the measure from our state and beyond.

“If you took a sum of all the correspondence I have received in favor of this bill — it’s about 15 or 20 to one in support,” he says. “If you took a count before the New York Times published it, it was probably more like 30 or 40 to one in support of versus the opposition.  If not throughout the national press and the national coverage looking at how Americans would support this concept, I can definitely tell you Missourians very much support this concept and see it signed into law.”

Funderburk is confident the legislature will vote to override Nixon’s veto of the measure when it convenes Sept. 11. After that, he hopes it doesn’t end up in the court system, but says if it does, that’s one of the functions of the Supreme Court.

House Speaker Tim Jones issued the following statement in response to Attorney General Koster’s letter regarding HB 436:

“I am disappointed that our Attorney General has again opted to regurgitate the governor’s talking points rather than stand with a bipartisan supermajority in the House and Senate in defense of the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Missourians,” Jones says. “What he fails to acknowledge in his politically-motivated letter is that the bill, at its core, seeks to affirm our rights as a state by pushing back against a federal government that has far exceeded the authority it was intended to have by our founding fathers. We will be further analyzing and examining the specific legal issues raised by the Attorney General and will respond if additional comment is necessary.”

NRA Mum

Democrats from the House of Representatives point out that the National Rifle Association has not weighed in on a bill that would prevent the federal government from enforcing certain restrictions on firearms in Missouri.

“While privately telling many Missouri lawmakers that their organization opposes efforts to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of House Bill 436, officials with the National Rifle Association repeatedly have refused to take a public position on the blatantly unconstitutional pro-gun legislation,” a statement e-mailed by Democrat leadership says.

“Although NRA representatives testified in favor of numerous bills to expand gun rights that were heard by legislative committees this year, the organization didn’t testify on behalf of HB 436 or any of the similar bills before the General Assembly this year that seek to declare federal gun laws null and void in Missouri and that attempt to make it a crime to enforce those laws,” the statement continues. “According to several recent news reports on the bill in advance of the General Assembly’s Sept. 11 veto session, NRA officials either have failed to respond to reporters’ inquiries or declined to state the organization’s position on the bill.”

Kansas City Rep. John Rizzo is calling out the national gun lobby to take a stand on the issue.

“As the nation’s largest and most powerful gun-rights group, the NRA should tell Missourians where it stands on HB 436,” says Rizzo, who is the House Minority Whip. “If the NRA opposes the bill, as its representatives have privately said, then it should say so publicly. If the NRA supports shredding other provisions of the Constitution in the name of protecting the Second Amendment, as the bill would do, then it should have the courage of its convictions and say so rather than cowering in silence.”

The statement says provisions of HB 436 attempting to nullify federal law and criminalize law enforcement violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which holds that federal laws are superior to contradictory state laws.

“The bill also prohibits the publishing of the name of any gun owner for any reason in any context in violation of free speech and freedom of the press clauses of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the free speech provision of the Missouri Constitution, Article I, Section 8,” the statement concludes.
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