Missouri Legislature Proposes Sweeping Firearms Reform Bill

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon will decide the fate of the pro-gun-rights Senate Bill 656.

On Friday, May 13, 2016, the last day of this legislative session, the Senate and House Conference Committees on Senate Bill 656 reported out the signed Conference Committee Report. The Conference Committee Report was then passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives on the last day of session. Senate Bill 656 will now be sent to the desk of Governor Jay Nixon for his consideration and signature.

On January 6, 2016, State Senator Brian Munzlinger (R-18) introduced Senate Bill 656 to address certain handgun laws regarding concealed carry permits. Under current law, an applicant for a concealed carry permit may be charged a fee that does not exceed $100. This act specifies that no additional fee may be charged, including any fee for fingerprinting or criminal background checks.

In addition, this act provides that if a concealed carry permit expires while the permit holder is on active duty in the Armed Forces, active state duty, full-time national guard duty, or active duty with the National Guard, or the permit holder is incapacitated due to an injury incurred while in military service, the permit may be renewed within two months of the permit holder’s return to Missouri after discharge from duty or recovery from the incapacitation. Once the two-month period has expired, the provisions governing late renewals apply except the penalties begin to accrue upon the expiration of the two-month period rather than on the permit’s expiration date.

However, over the course of this legislative session, SB 656 has undergone major revisions and several pro-gun amendments have been introduced by both the House and Senate.

On February 25, 2016, an amended version was passed by the Senate and sent to the House for consideration.

After several hearings in various House committees, additional amendments were added and the entire House voted to pass the amended bill on May 5th, and send it back to the Senate for their review of the amended bill.

As amended, the bill would:

  • Recognize Missourians right to Constitutional/ Permitless Carry where open carry is not prohibited
  • Allow full-time employees of public higher-education institutions to concealed carry a firearm on campus with a valid handgun carry permit
  • Expand Missouri’s current Stand your Ground laws (Similar to SB 663)
  • Expand Castle Doctrine protections for anyone legally allowed into your home, vehicle, business and property
  • Specify that except for credit card fees incurred, no additional fee beyond $100 may be charged to process concealed carry permits and allows military members extra time to renew their permits
  • Implement 10, 20 and 50 year options for non-reciprocity issued permits
  • Allow components of firearm training for RTC permits to be online
  • Allow the legal carry of a firearm for self-defense on public transportation
  • Establishes punitive measures and civil liability for persons responsible for the knowing and illegal dissemination of permit holder information

However, on May 6th, the Senate refused to concur on the amended House version and requested the House to either recede the amendments or grant a conference committee to try and reach a compromise between the two legislative bodies on a bill both could accept.

On May 9th, the House refused to recede but agreed to a conference committee. That same day, both the House and Senate appointed members to the joint committee.

The legislative session ended May 13, 2016. If the Conference Committee had not worked out an agreed version by then, the bill would have died. Since the Missouri Constitution does not permit bills to be carried over to the next legislative session, a new bill would have had to have been introduced in the 2017 session and the process would start all over.

However, a compromise was reached that both houses agreed upon, and the measure was then sent to the governor for consideration. If the governor signs the bill, it becomes law. If he vetoes it, the veto could be addressed in the special “Veto Session” of the legislature that convenes in September, 2016. It takes 2/3 vote of both houses to override a veto. At present, the Republicans control more than 2/3 vote in both the House and Senate, so an override of a Democrat governor’s veto is highly likely.

Stay tuned.

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