Bill would void federal gun laws, OK machine guns for residents

Posted at 8:08 AM, Sep 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-11 08:08:44-04

By Leslie Bentz and George Howell

KEARNEY, Missouri (CNN) — The Missouri state legislature is trying to accomplish something that’s never been done: pass a law that’ll not only let residents own a machine gun, but also arrest federal agents if they try to take it away.

What’s more, the bill would make it illegal for anyone to publish any information about a gun owner.

“There are people saying this is the same as seceding from the Union,” said gun owner Kevin Jamison. “Missouri did not secede from the Union in 1862, and it does not do so by passing this law.”

The legislation already passed once through the Republican-led House and Senate — only to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Nixon argued that the legislation violated a provision in the U.S. Constitution called the Supremacy Clause. The Supremacy Clause gives preference to federal laws over state laws.

Lawmakers insist what they’re proposing is not only constitutional, but essential to protect the rights of gun owners.

So Wednesday, the legislature votes to overide the veto.

What the bill says

The author of the bill is optimistic.

“This bill doesn’t put one new gun on the street,” State Representative Doug Funderburk told CNN. “It strictly says that Missouri is going to protect the Second Amendment rights of Missourians.”

By superseding current federal regulations, House Bill 436 would make it a criminal offense to enforce background checks or to publish the name and address of a gun owner in the state.

It would also allow citizens to own a machine gun, which is banned under federal regulations. Most importantly, it will nullify federal gun laws and make it a misdemeanor for a federal agent to attempt to enforce them.

Opponents worry

Multiple states like Ohio, Minnesota and Texas have pursued similar bills in recent months in reaction to attempts at federal gun control legislation after the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Opponents worry such a law could all but end any joint operations between local and federal law enforcement agencies when it comes to taking guns off the streets.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has been one of its most vocal opponents.

“(We are) basically saying to criminals, ‘OK criminals, it’s OK to come to Missouri. We won’t prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,'” he said.

If the state legislature succeeds in overriding the governor’s veto, the issue would almost certainly head to court.

CNN’s George Howell reported from Kearney, Missouri; Leslie Bentz from Washington

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