SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Right now, Missouri law restricts felons convicted of crimes like rape, murder and kidnapping from possessing firearms. But -if passed – one Missouri house bill would change that.
For Sheriff Jim Arnott, there are only downsides to House Bill 1828. In fact, he says the bill is a “horrible idea”.
According to the bill’s summary, it would give those who have committed both violent and non-violent felonies a chance to regain their right to carry a firearm after they have served their sentence.
For those felons convicted of a non-violent crime, they would regain their ability to carry immediately after serving their sentence. But those charged with violent crimes like murder, kidnapping or rape, they would need to petition for their reinstated right through a circuit court.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Don McGaugh(R-District 039) says he just wants to help good people who may have a bad past.
“There are a lot of people who have made bad decisions, you know, in their life. They’ve been rehabilitated. They’re outstanding citizens within our community and I think they should have those civil rights restored,” he told us during a phone call Thursday.
But Greene County Sheriff, Jim Arnott, says meeting that goal wouldn’t even be possible if the bill became state law.
“Even if that bill passed, these folks that would potentially possess a gun under the state statute, would be in violation of federal law, and could be prosecuted,” he said.
Gun salesman and owner of Springfield’s Eagle Armory, Zach Terhark, says felons would face similar obstacles shopping for firearms at his store.
“Regardless of what legislation passes, I am still going to have to follow the federal laws as a federal dealer, so it won’t change how I do things at all,” said Terhark.
And Terhark says his store is not in the minority.
“Any local gun shop is going to have a federal license and if you check that you’re a felon on the form, they’re not going to be able to sell a gun to you,” he said.
But beyond federal restrictions, Sheriff Arnott says the bill contradicts the justice system.
“That’s just not a good idea, when you commit a crime, and you commit a felony, you lose that right. You lose that right to vote, you lose that right to have a firearm, and I believe that’s the way it should be,” he said.