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Response To Governor Bob Holden`s<BR> Veto Message On HB 349

Friday, August 1, 2003

Governor Bob Holden doesn`t want law-abiding Missourians to be able to carry firearms to defend themselves and their families and he uses the failed rhetoric of anti-gun politicians to justify his stance. (Read Governor Holden`s veto message here.) The Governor claims Missouri voters rejected a similar law when they rejected Proposition B in 1999, but he misinterprets provisions of the legislation, nitpicks small details, and has crafted a veto message of fiction, not fact:

I. Fiction: HB 349 allows persons convicted of domestic violence to get a permit in conflict with federal law.

Fact: A person who cannot possess a firearm under federal law is prohibited from receiving a permit. This prohibition includes crimes classified as "domestic violence" crimes. HB 349 expands upon federal law and excludes those convicted of other misdemeanor crimes involving violence from obtaining a permit.

II. Fiction: Concealed firearms would be allowed in restaurants, stadiums and sports arenas seating less than 5,000 and portions of airports.

Fact: HB 349 does not limit any restaurant owner or small sports venue from exercising their authority and saying "NO CONCEALED GUNS ALLOWED, PLEASE." But some property owners might not want to prohibit carrying firearms. As Suzanna Gratia-Hupp, a State Representative from Texas, who saw her parents murdered in a Luby`s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, says—she had the "means to save her parents—a handgun—uselessly in [her] car 150 feet away." She wasn`t carrying her gun because it was against Texas law at the time—just like it is in Missouri right now. HB 349 specifically disallows carrying concealed firearms where firearms are prohibited by federal law, including secure areas of airports.

III. Fiction: There are not sufficient penalties for carrying a firearm into a prohibited area, or on posted private property.

Fact: If a permit holder carries into a prohibited area they are subject to fines starting at $100 and going as high as $500, based on whether they repeat the offense. They can lose their permit and the ability to get another for three years. For a person who has gone through rigorous training and paid a great deal for the permit, this is a true penalty. In addition to these provisions, a person knowingly carrying into these prohibited areas can be charged with criminal trespass, if local law enforcement chooses and the property owners insist.

IV. Fiction: Concealed weapons can be carried into police stations, highway patrol offices, bars, elementary and high schools, child care facilities and churches.

Fact: Unless expressly authorized by someone in authority, concealed weapons cannot be carried into police stations, highway patrol offices, bars, elementary and high schools, child care facilities and churches. This limited exception allows schools to hire private security guards and allows law enforcement to make appropriate exceptions. Additionally, anyone displaying a firearm while intoxicated in establishments serving liquor faces criminal penalties under Missouri law.

V. Fiction: People won`t know where concealed weapons can be carried, because the posting and notification requirements are insufficient.

Fact: Property owners know how to manage their property, and if they want to prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms, HB 349 provides them with a mechanism to do so. As they would with other trespass prohibitions, they must provide adequate notice. If owners post signs at entrances, the prohibition will be well-advertised and easily enforced. The law specifically gives minimum requirements for signage.

VI. Fiction: The 1999 "Proposition B" referendum had additional protections not found in HB 349.

Fact: HB 349 is a balanced Right-to-Carry reform that differs from Proposition B in several substantial areas: The permit is placed on the Missouri Driver`s or non-driver`s license, thus eliminating the need for a new bureaucracy. A concealed weapon cannot be carried into additional sensitive places, unless authorized by authorities. Those who can be proven to be a danger to themselves or others through documented previous behavior-criminal or not-can be denied a permit.

VII. Fiction: The 1999 "Proposition B" referendum had more extensive background checks.

Fact: In truth, the background check in HB 349 is extremely thorough, and provides the Sheriff with solid information with which to make a decision. The FBI conducts a national criminal background check based on fingerprints which includes a check of juvenile as well as adult convictions that would prevent someone from receiving a permit. Further, if a Sheriff believes someone may be a danger to themselves or others, a permit can be denied.

VIII. Fiction: HB 349 requires fewer training hours than Proposition B, therefore people would be less safe.

Fact: The training requirements in HB 349 exceeds the standard course requirements for personal protection, and are more stringent than other states with successful Right-to-Carry laws. The quality of course content is what matters, not the length of the course.

IX. Fiction: HB 349`s language allowing carry privileges to people with permits from other states is not protective of public safety.

Fact: HB 349`s language that recognizes out-of-state permits is straight-forward and simple. Many states that adopted reciprocal statutes similar to those in Proposition B found them costly, impossible to administer and unnecessary. The language in HB 349 is successful in other areas of the nation because many Governors recognize that the right to self-defense does not terminate at a state line.

X. Fiction: Current law already allows groups at high risk to carry a firearm, such as state, county and municipal law enforcement, armed forces or national guard personnel while performing official duties, state and federal judges, probation officers, parole officers, wardens, superintendents, keepers of prisons, and process servers.

Fact: In practice, only state patrol officers are allowed to carry a firearm concealed while off-duty despite the danger these other individuals face. In fact, not only have these groups been denied the right to carry off-duty, but some, like process servers, have been threatened with arrest if they did carry a gun.

XI. Fiction: Permit holder information should be public record pursuant to the state`s sunshine law so that the public and press can access and publish names, addresses and personal information about permit holders.

Fact: The state sunshine laws should not be used an excuse to release personal information on law-abiding citizens who should be treated with respect and privacy. Release of this information could make it possible for criminals to compile a "Rob Me First" list of homes likely to have firearms. Of course, law enforcement would still have access to permit holder information in the course of their duties. Studies have shown that a large part of the success of Right-to-Carry laws in violent crime reduction is the deterrent effect of criminals not knowing who has a permit. Right-to-Carry states have an appreciably lower violent crime rate (24%) on average according to the FBI uniform crime statistics. It is time for Missouri to show Governor Holden how to reduce violent crime, by passing Right-to-Carry.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.