JEFFERSON CITY - A campaign to allow Missourians to carry concealed weapons found a surprise supporter in Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, who is sponsoring a bill to put the issue up for a voter referendum.
But Jacob said he didn't mean to propose the bill as it was introduced. Clerical errors and a lack of time led Jacob to propose a bill that is similar to Proposition B, a ballot measure allowing concealed weapons that was narrowly defeated in 1999.
Jacob said he wants to allow concealed weapons only for those who demonstrate a need to carry a gun, such as former prosecutors, police and businessmen who make night deposits. But as the bill was written, anyone who met certain requirements could obtain a permit regardless of need.
Apparently certain provisions were left out of the bill due to an office mixup. A Jacob staffer said he forgot to include the change when he redrafted the bill. Jacob said he was not aware of the mistake, and that he would correct it as soon as possible.
"That's a hell of a thing," Jacob said. "If he didn't get that in there, then he screwed up."
Jacob also said he forgot to remove a provision in his bill that puts the issue up for referendum. His proposal was recycled from a previous House bill, and he said the section calling for a referendum was overlooked.
He said he hasn't made a decision whether to keep the referendum provision.
"I have mixed feelings about the referendum," Jacob said. "It may be one of those decisions that's better determined by a legislature."
Jacob opposed Prop. B when it was offered in 1999, but said his plan differs greatly. Specifically, the Highway Patrol would be responsible for issuing permits instead of county sheriffs, and the plan would only apply to those who demonstrate a need to carry a weapon.
Jacob has been a traditional opponent of gun-rights issues, and has said he is against guns. However, he said there is a need for some people to carry concealed weapons.
"If some person has a legitimate reason of why they want to, I think we ought to consider that," Jacob said.
Jacob said he expects to amend his bill to correct the mistakes as soon as possible.