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Concealed carry legislation revived in House committee

April 03, 2001
By: Matt Williams
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 258, HB 853

JEFFERSON CITY - Two top leaders of the Missouri House are working to revive the issue of allowing citizens to carry a concealed weapon two years after voters rejected a ballot issue to do just that.

Sponsored by the two highest ranking members in the Democratically controlled House, Speaker Jim Kreider, D-Nixa, and Majority Floor Leader Wayne Crump, D-Potosi, the plan would allow gun owners who undergo training and get a license to carry a concealed firearm.

The plan would be very similar to Proposition B, which was voted down in a 1999 statewide referendum 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent. Crump said this bill would specifically prohibit weapons in stadiums and disqualify those who are convicted of violent misdemeanors from getting permits.

Crump rejects criticism that he is trying to overturn the decision of the voters. He said the plan addresses problems in Proposition B and asserted that voters were misled by the opposition.

"It's not unusual at all to revisit an issue," Crump said at a hearing held Tuesday.

Crump said that he is not pushing for another public vote and would rather the issue to be handled by the legislature.

"I'm not going to go back to a vote of the people," Crump said in an interview. "I made a mistake of doing that last time because of how bad people were misled by the opposition."

Opponents of Proposition B say the attempt to revive the issue is an affront to their efforts and the wishes of the majority of voters. Nick Wertsch, a 14-year-old student who works with a group of classmates to fight gun violence at his St. Louis area school, said representatives are sidestepping the people.

"It's just like a slap in the face," Wertsch said. "We defeated it. It was denied. But they're back with it again."

Wertsch said he is concerned that allowing people to carry weapons will increase the availability of guns to kids. He said children could use their parents' weapons to kill others or more often themselves.

Proponents however argue that personal safety is most important. Similar laws in other states haven't led to "Wild West Syndrome" or road rage shootings, according to proponents.

Nicole Palya of the National Rifle Association said the current plan is a different bill than Proposition B, and that the measure lost because of misrepresentation by opponents and the media.

"I think the media is to blame for sensationalizing a lot of this issue into something it really isn't," Palya said.

While the measure enjoys widespread support in the House, it may face the hurdle of a veto from Gov. Bob Holden. Spokesman Rob Crouse said the governor wants more restrictions on who can get weapons permits.

"He hasn't seen a bill yet come through that he would be in favor of signing," Crouse said.

Crump, who said he pushed for putting Proposition B on the ballot in order to avoid forcing a veto from then Gov. Mel Carnahan, said he would be open to limited changes to get Holden's support.

"I'll accept some suggestions from (Holden) and maybe we can change the bill where he can sign it," he said.