by Wes Duplantier
With just two weeks left in the year’s legislative session, Republican lawmakers in both chambers pushed forward more gun legislation Tuesday, April 30, over the vocal objections of Democrats who say the focus of gun debates should be on preventing violent crime.
The state House voted 123-34 to pass a measure that would allow school teachers to carry concealed weapons in their classroom and act as “school protection officers.” Republican supporters said during debate that those teachers could protect students from a school shooting like the one that killed 26 people in Newtown, CT, in December.
But Democrats, led by Rep. Stacey Newman, said that putting guns in classrooms would be a dangerous practice. Newman, D-St. Louis County, said Republicans were backing the bill as a means of expanding firearm usage to support gun manufacturers. She said lawmakers should be doing more to prevent gun deaths in the urban areas of the state.
In the Senate, the General Laws Committee voted 3-1 along party lines to pass a bill that would lower the age limit for getting a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19. That bill would also make it a felony for any state official to enforce federal gun laws.
Sponsoring Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, said the provisions on federal gun laws are not merely symbolic. He said he fears that Congressional Democrats will move to expand federal health care laws to include gun control measures in light of the Newtown shootings. He said he wants to stop those additional laws from being enforced in Missouri.
“For a calculated president to pass legislation through Congress and really shove it down the American citizen’s throat and then to tie in gun control — that’s deplorable,” said Guernsey, R-Bethany.
That bill now heads to the Senate floor.