JEFFERSON CITY - Gun rights supporters delivered a clear message to state lawmakers Wednesday: "put up or shut up" on conceal and carry.
During a morning rally at the Capitol, supporters called on the legislature to pass measures allowing Missourians to carry concealed weapons. Conceal and carry proposals have made it through committees in both the House and Senate this session, but have yet to receive full-chamber votes.
A ballot proposition to allow concealed weapons was rejected by voters by a 4 percent margin in 1999. The proposed legislation would not require a vote of the people.
House Speaker Jim Kreider, D-Nixa, said there will be a debate and vote on a bill allowing concealed weapons this session, possibly as early as next week. Kreider said carrying concealed weapons is "a basic right and basic freedom" and that he believes there are enough votes for it to pass in the House. He said there has been a change of attitude since the events of Sept. 11 and that the failed proposition in 1999 isn't the "driving point" on the issue.
Sen. John Cauthorn, R-Mexico, said the conceal and carry bill he's sponsoring may reach the Senate floor next week. Though Cauthorn said he hasn't counted votes, Greg Jeffery, legislative chairman of the Second Amendment Coalition of Missouri, said he believes there are enough votes to pass conceal and carry in both chambers.
Anticipating a veto if conceal and carry legislation passes, the rally's keynote speaker criticized Gov. Bob Holden's opposition. Michael Gordinier, an adjunct professor of business at Washington University, said inner-city nurses, single moms with "psycho" boyfriends and retired police officers should have the right to carry concealed weapons. He said Holden would rather see those people die than "alienate his brainless soccer mom constituency."
The legislature has debated conceal and carry since 1991, and for the past five years Ron Ashmore of Independence has come to advocate for its passage. He compared the right of citizens to carry concealed weapons to the security measures in place at the Capitol.
"If we can't protect ourselves let's get rid of these bodyguards and all these security systems that these elite have and let's see how they like it," Ashmore said.