by Jordan Shapiro and Taylor Beck
The Missouri Senate rejected an attempt to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of gun legislation that gained national attention.
The Senate voted 22-12 in favor of overriding the governor’s veto — one vote shy of the necessary two-thirds majority. The House had voted to override the veto and enact the measure 109-49 earlier Wednesday.
The Senate’s top two Republicans — President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey and Majority Leader Ron Richard — joined the chamber’s 10 Democrats in opposing the override.
Dempsey, R-St. Charles, and Richard, R-Joplin, both cited concerns from law enforcement officials as tipping points in the debate.
“I think I took one for every law enforcement official in the state of Missouri,” Richard said.
The bill would have nullified certain federal gun control laws, criminalized the enforcement of gun control regulations, allowed designated school personnel to carry concealed weapons and prohibited publishing the names of gun owners.
Senate handler – Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington – blamed a letter from Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster for the measure’s demise. Koster wrote that if lawmakers overrode Nixon’s veto cooperation between local and federal law enforcement on gun control matters would end.
Supporters argued the measure would protect gun rights from the federal government.
“The bill would push back against the tyranny of the out of control and incompetent federal government,” said bill sponsor Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peters.
Legislators and gun-rights supporters gathered on the front steps of the state Capitol Sept. 11, hours before the override attempt was defeated. Nieves blamed Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster for the loss.
Koster released a statement the previous week, voicing his concerns over the bill’s legality. Nieves said the statement was full of lies, and was released for political gain.
“He’s a bad attorney general, he’ll be an even worse governor, but he is an awesome, awesome politician,” Nieves said.
Koster has announced his intentions to seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2016.
The gun-rights debate sparked national interest and thrust Missouri into the media spotlight in stories by the New York Times and Al Jazeera America.