In early July, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed House Bill 436, known as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” a pro-gun measure that would nullify all federal laws and statutes that infringe on a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms under the U.S. Constitution.
Now, though, it’s becoming apparent that the GOP-controlled state Legislature is going to override his veto when it reconvenes in September, the Associated Press reports.
Under the language of the bill, any federal agent that attempts to enforce a federal gun law or confiscate firearms manufactured, sold or kept within the state’s borders would face misdemeanor charges.
Key provisions of the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” read, in part:
3. (1) All federal acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations, whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution shall be invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, shall be specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.
6. Any official, agent, or employee of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce any of the infringements on the right to keep and bear arms included in subsection 3 of this section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
The bill also seeks to protect the privacy of law-abiding gun owners by banning journalists from publishing the names of gun owners in newspapers, magazines or over the Internet.
Nixon vetoed the bill claiming that it violated the U.S. Constitution, which he argued preempts local and state laws. He also claimed that the bill would infringe upon the First Amendment rights of journalists.
“This unnecessary and unconstitutional attempt to nullify federal laws would have violated Missourians’ First Amendment right to free speech — while doing nothing to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners,” Nixon said in a statement.
“In fact, under this bill, newspaper editors around the state that annually publish photos of proud young Missourians who harvest their first turkey or deer could be charged with a crime.”
However, the vast majority of the lawmakers in the Legislature do not agree with Nixon’s assessment, but even some of those who do agree with Nixon’s interpretation are still going to vote to override his veto because they are afraid voting “no” on a pro-gun bill will have real career consequences.
“Being a rural-area Democrat, if you don’t vote for any gun bill, it will kill you,” House Democrat Ben Harris (Hillsboro) told the AP. “That’s what the Republicans want you to do is vote against it, because if you vote against it, they’ll send one mailer every week just blasting you about guns, and you’ll lose” re-election.
Rep. Ed Schieffer (D-Troy) said that while he is undecided, he’s inclined to vote in favor of the override for the same reason Harris mentioned.
“I personally believe that any higher court will probably rule this particular gun law unconstitutional on that, I probably agree that the governor’s right,” Schieffer said. “But I may end up still voting for the gun bill, because I don’t want to be on record for not supporting guns.”
In the same boat is Rep. T.J. McKenna (D-Festus), who indicated that he too would vote for the bill even though he believes it won’t hold up in a federal court.
“We love our guns and we love hunting. It’s not worth the fight for me to vote against it,” Rep. T.J. McKenna (D-Festus) told the AP, adding, “the bill is completely unconstitutional, so the courts are going to have to throw it out.”
To McKenna’s point, last week the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a Montana lawsuit that like the Second Amendment Preservation Act challenges the regulatory powers of the federal government with respect to gun ownership.
Yet, although the court dismissed the case it also acknowledged that its hands were tied and that it could not overturn a Supreme Court precedent, something that appeased the main plaintiff in the case, Second Amendment advocate Gary Marbut, who has begun filing the appeals paperwork to bring the case before the high court.
“This was about as good of a ruling as we could have expected from the Ninth Circuit. We must get to the U.S. Supreme Court to accomplish our goal of overturning 70 years of flawed Supreme Court rulings on the Interstate Commerce Clause,” Marbut, who is president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, said following the ruling.
As it appears today, the numbers are there to overturn Nixon’s veto, especially considering that the state Legislature initially passed the bill with a bipartisan vote of 116-38 in the House and 26-6 in the Senate. To override the veto, the Legislature needs a two-thirds majority in both chambers or 109 votes in the House and 23 votes in the Senate.
So, barring an unforeseeable change in events, Missouri will pass the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.” The only question is whether or not it will withstand the scrutiny of a federal court.
Although the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” protects the Second Amendment, do you agree that it’s at the cost of the rest of the constitution? What are your thoughts?