JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri measure attempting to nullify some federal gun-control laws fell a single vote short of enactment Wednesday as the leaders of the state’s Republican-led Senate joined with Democrats to prevent a veto override.
Senators voted 22-12 for the veto override, coming up just shy of the required two-thirds majority. Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey and Majority Leader Ron Richard split from the rest of the Republican caucus that they lead to instead sustain Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto.
The override attempt had passed the Republican-led House 109-49, getting the bare minimum number of votes needed.
The legislation declared that any federal policies that “infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms” shall be invalid in Missouri. It would have allowed state misdemeanor charges to be brought against federal authorities who attempted to enforce those laws or anyone who published the identity of a gun owner.
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“My love of the Second Amendment doesn’t trump my love of the First Amendment,” Dempsey, of St. Charles, said after the vote. “We need to work harder on crafting the legislation.”
Dempsey and Richard, of Joplin, both cited concerns about how the legislation could have affected local police and prosecutors. Nixon vetoed the gun bill in July while warning that it infringed on First Amendment free-speech rights and violated the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives precedence to federal laws over conflicting state ones. He stuck by those assertions Wednesday.
“It’s unconstitutional, it’s unsafe and it’s unnecessary,” Nixon said at a news conference before the Senate vote.
Sen. Brian Nieves, a Republican from Washington, Mo., pledged: “This fight ain’t over, it ain’t over, it ain’t over. We’ll be back to visit it again” in the 2014 session.
The gun bill was one of the highest-profile measures among Nixon’s 33 vetoes this year. Lawmakers failed, however, to override his veto of an income-tax cut, giving him a victory on one of the most hard-fought measures.
A few hundred gun-rights advocates had rallied Wednesday on the Missouri Capitol lawn in a last-moment lobbying push for the bill.
“We need to take control from the federal government and their overreach of taking away our rights,” said Gene Dultz, 60, of St. Louis, who was wearing a National Rifle Association (NRA) hat and shirt. The NRA maintained a conspicuous public silence about the bill.
In Chicago, meanwhile, the City Council, forced to water down one of the nation’s toughest gun-control laws, voted that gun owners in the city will no longer have to register their firearms with the local authorities, ending a policy that has helped the police track guns in Chicago for decades.
But, signaling that it wasn’t backing down entirely, the panel banned concealed weapons in all bars and restaurants that sell liquor.
The change comes as Chicago is trying to control a rash of gun violence that drew national attention when the city’s homicide count surpassed 500 last year.