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Gun bill top priority on Missouri lawmakers' last day

Most state and federal gun laws are the same anyway. The push for the bill is driven by fear that Biden will enact sweeping limits on firearms
Credit: cherylvb - stock.adobe.com

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri's Republican-led Legislature was speeding toward its Friday deadline to pass bills with a high-profile measure to ban local enforcement of federal gun laws still outstanding.

The House has until 6 p.m. to give legislation final approval. Senators passed the bill 22-10 on Thursday.

The gun bill is a top priority, especially after lawmakers this week pushed through a hike on gas taxes and several other bills that grated some conservative Republicans.

The firearms measure would block enforcement of federal gun laws by local police, an effort growing in popularity in Republican-led states under Democratic President Joe Biden's administration.

Most state and federal gun laws are the same anyway, and federal law enforcement could still enforce gun rules that are in federal law only. The push for the bill is driven by fear that Biden will enact sweeping limits on firearms.

"This is our way of saying we're going to be proactive in pushing back against that," said Republican Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, the No. 2 senator.

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Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Tuesday signed similar legislation aimed at thwarting executive actions by Biden to combat gun violence.

Under the Missouri bill, departments with police who knowingly enforce federal gun laws could be sued and fined $50,000 per violating officer.

Senate Democrats on Thursday tried and failed to amend the bill to bar people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from owning guns, an issue created when the Legislature in 2016 passed a law allowing concealed carry without a permit.

Also still lingering is legislation that would require out-of-state online businesses to collect sales taxes on Missourians' purchases. Missouri is the only state that hasn't approved a rule requiring those taxes be collected. 

Other pending bills include limits on lawsuits that can be filed against businesses for misconduct during the pandemic.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson has been calling on GOP lawmakers to send him a bill blocking many coronavirus-related lawsuits since last year. If such legislation doesn't pass it will mark a loss for his office. 

The Legislature has already passed a number of other longtime priorities, including the gas tax measure. 

The bill would hike gas taxes in the state for the first time in more than two decades, a phased-in 12.5 cent-per-gallon increase, in order to raise money for road and bridge repairs. Parson has indicated he will sign it. 

Lawmakers also sent Parson legislation that will create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. The policy is aimed at helping doctors see if their patients are getting painkillers and other medications from other physicians, a signal that they might be struggling with addiction. 

A prescription drug database was another Parson request.

Coverage from Missouri Capitol: