Gov. Nixon signs legislation expanding gun rights, vetoes unconstitutional nullification bill

Posted July 11, 2013 at 9:32 am

Gov. Jay Nixon has signed House Bill 533 to expand gun rights in the state of Missouri and vetoed House Bill 436, which would have violated several provisions of the U.S. Constitution and criminalized Missourians’ exercise of their constitutionally-protected right of free speech.

House Bill 533 allows a state employee to keep a firearm in his or her vehicle while on property owned or leased by the state, allows a fire chief to carry a concealed firearm, and expresses the General Assembly’s support of responsible gun ownership.

“As a gun owner and hunter, I support the Second Amendment rights of Missourians and oppose efforts to undermine them,” Gov. Nixon said. “That is why, as Governor, I have enacted legislation to expand gun rights, including bills to strengthen the Castle Doctrine and to allow more Missourians to carry concealed weapons. House Bill 533 is a sensible expansion of Missouri’s already strong protections for gun owners.”

By contrast, House Bill 436 would have violated the U.S. Constitution by seeking to nullify federal laws and infringe upon Missourians’ freedom of speech. Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, commonly referred to as the Supremacy Clause, gives precedence to the laws of the nation over those of the respective states. Under well-established legal precedent, state legislation such as House Bill 436 that seeks to resurrect the pre-Civil War concept of nullification would violate the Supremacy Clause. The bill also would have made it a crime for anyone to publish the name or other information of someone who owns a firearm.

“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,” Gov. Nixon said. “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.”

The Governor has consistently signed bills expanding the rights of gun owners in Missouri. In 2012, Gov. Nixon signed legislation to lower the right-to-carry age for active duty military stationed in Missouri from 21 to 18. A bill signed by the Governor in 2011 lowered the age at which Missourians’ can obtain a conceal carry endorsement from 23 to 21 and allowed elected officials and staff with concealed carry permits to carry firearms in the Missouri State Capitol. In 2010, he signed bills to expand the scope of the “Castle Doctrine” to include the protection of unborn children and allowing small business owners and farmers to use deadly force on property they own or lease without having a duty to retreat.

In 2008, then-Attorney General Nixon was among the first attorneys general in the nation to file a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to strike down the Washington, DC, gun ban and adopt the position that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. He also defended Missouri’s conceal carry law before the Missouri Supreme Court and obtained reciprocity agreements from other states to recognize Missouri’s conceal carry permits, making Missouri’s endorsement the most widely recognized in the nation.

Gov. Nixon signs legislation expanding gun rights, vetoes unconstitutional nullification bill