Faced with NRA pressure, Missouri’s Senate revises its gun bill

Posted February 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

by Phill Brooks

Just days after the Missouri branch of the National Rifle Association raised objections, Missouri’s Senate removed Monday, Feb. 17, an amendment opposed by the NRA. Then on Thursday, Feb. 20, sent the revised bill to the House without the amendment.

The underlying bill would declare invalid in Missouri any federal law that infringes on Second Amendment firearms rights and impose criminal penalties for violations by federal government workers.

The amendment would have required a person to report the theft of a firearm within 72 hours. Although the amendment had no enforcement provision, it generated quick opposition from the NRA to the entire bill if the amendment was not removed.

Opponents to the amendment warned it could lead to registration of the owners of firearms whose weapons had been stolen.

The Republican effort in the Senate led to a five-hour filibuster by Democrats. Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, sponsor of the amendment, charged Republicans were caving in to pressure from the NRA.

“You are following the NRA blindly … and you’re not being a free thinker,” Nasheed said to Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St.Joseph, who made the motion to reconsider her amendment. “You turned a blind eye to what is extremely important, particularly in my district,” Nasheed told Schaaf.

Schaaf responded that he had concluded his initial support of her amendment was a mistake before the NRA took its position. “I want you to know that I didn’t even think about the NRA’s position,” to which Nasheed responded “ah, give me a break.”

In explaining his changed position, Schaaf said that the amendment he originally supported would have set a precedent for a requirement to report a firearm theft that is not required for the theft of any other item.

“Well, if someone stole my knife, I wouldn’t have to report it stolen. If someone stole my car, I wouldn’t have to report it stolen,” he said.

Eventually, after five hours of filibuster, the Senate voted to take off the stolen firearms reporting provision and then gave first-round approval to the measure.

The influence of the NRA in Missouri’s legislature was a dominant theme in Monday night’s filibuster. Even the sponsor of the firearms bill expressed exasperation with the NRA.

“You are talking to one person who can undisputedly be labeled as a person who doesn’t give a crap about what the NRA has to say about this amendment because the NRA has not approached this amendment from the standpoint of truth,” Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Franklin County, said in response to the charges that the Senate was bowing to NRA pressure.

Nieves had argued that the Missouri branch of the NRA misrepresented the provisions of the theft-reporting amendment, which he agreed to add to his bill.