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House Shoots Down Concealed Weapons

April 16, 1996
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The latest legislative attempt to allow concealed weapons was gunned down Tuesday. The House Judiciary and Ethics Committee voted to table a proposed constitutional amendment to establish a right to carry concealed weapons.

The constitutional amendment's sponsor charged Republicans were to blame for the proposal's defeat.

Rep. Wayne Crump, D-Potosi, said at least four Republicans had told him they would vote for the substitute amendment.

"Representatives lied to me and said they would support it," Crump charged. Crump said he thought the National Rifle Association, which requested to have the amendment withdrawn, "had gotten to the Republicans."

The NRA repeatedly has fought efforts to allow a public vote on concealed weapons. The organization argues the legislature should pass the proposal without submitting it to the voters.

One of the four named by Crump was the House GOP Leader Mark Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff.

But Richardson said he had not made any specific commitment to Crump.

"I've never spoken to Rep. Crump about the substitute. I've never specifically spoken to him about the original bill," he said. "He knows he and I worked together for several years trying to promote legislation that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry guns."

Richardson denied having been lobbied by the NRA in the six years he has been here.

Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a concealed weapons bill after an amendment was added to submit the issue to Missouri voters.

Crump said the tabling of the bill put an end to his options. "It can't be reconsidered...Conceal and carry is dead."

Some committee members voiced concern over the lack of restrictions in the amendment.

The only specific restriction in the proposal was to deny concealed weapons permits to convicted felons. The proposed constitutional amendment left it to the legislature to deal with other requirements such as training or mental health.

Crump said the concealed weapons debate has been put to rest for the next four or five years with a governor who has threatened to veto concealed weapons legislation.

"We've got the same governor and everything. I don't see any way to get around a governor who has said he will veto a bill without taking it to the vote of the people," Crump said.

Crump had said he wanted Missouri's voters to have a chance to voice their opinion.

"Send the resolution to a vote of the people. It's a straight up question -- either yes or no," he said.

Crump, a former deputy sheriff, said he thought guns in the hands of responsible citizens would have no major effect on crime. "A hand gun in the hands of a law abiding citizen will help stop those who aren't," he said.

Although opposed to concealed weapons legislation, Gov. Mel Carnahan has urged lawmakers to put the issue on the statewide ballot. The governor argues that a statewide vote is the only way to get a final resolution and prevent the issue from coming back year after year.