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With increasing talks of gun control in Washington, states around the country are preparing to take action. Some states, like New York, have already passed measures to further regulate firearms, while others are doing just the opposite. In Jefferson City too, there is talk of gun control. KSMU’s Shane Franklin has the story.
House Bill 170 is one way Missouri is responding to ongoing talks on gun legislation in Washington. The bill will make it a Class-D felony for any officer, employee of the state or any licensed federal firearms dealer to enforce or attempt to enforce any federal regulation relating to firearms that are made and kept exclusively in Missouri. This would include any regulation on weapon type, handguns and assault rifles, for instance, in addition to the size of magazines.
The bill applies only to weapons made in Missouri that do not leave state lines.
The bill also allows for any person in violation of federal gun laws in Missouri, to request the help of the State Attorney General in their defense.
One thing that the bill does not explain though, is how the legislation will be enforced, says Charlie Norr, the Democratic Representative from Missouri’s 137th district.
“It doesn’t say. I have no idea if the local authorities.. maybe the state police, but they’re not going to do that. What are we going to do with federal agents, when they come down here to box them up for having machine guns? Are the local police going to duel it out with the federal agents, or are they going to lock the federal agents up, and charge them with a felony? You know many police jurisdictions don’t enforce unconstitutional laws. We have that happening all over the country,” says Norr.
And just like all over the country, bills like this one are deeply divided on party lines.
Sandy Crawford, a Republican from Missouri’s 119th District and the Majority Whip in Missouri’s House, stated in an email that she supports HB170.
In another email, Missouri Republican Representative from district 140, Lynn Morris, stated that he, too, is in full support of HB170. Morris says it would be hard to find a Republican in the State House that would support the gun control measures currently being talked about in Washington.
Both Republicans we spoke with declined to comment further on the constitutionality of the bill.
Norr, on the other hand, has been speaking to lawyers and judges in Jefferson City about the bill and had this comment.
“It’s unconstitutional. There is just no other way about it. There is nothing going to come of it. I’d be amazed if it ever gets out of the Senate. They’ll probably pass it here out of the House, but hopefully the Senate has a little more sense,” says Norr.
The bill is sponsored by Representative Casey Guernsey of Missouri’s 3rd District and co-sponsored by 61 other members of the State House.
It has been read aloud twice on the House floor and been referred to the General Laws committee.