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Posted: 5/6/2003 4:21:49 PM EST
The Kansas City Star
Posted on Tue, May. 06, 2003

Concealed-carry bill passes House; fight looms over probable veto


JEFFERSON CITY - The House gave final approval Monday to a bill allowing Missourians to carry concealed handguns, sending the measure to Gov. Bob Holden, who has promised to veto it.

"It's time that we join the 35 other states that...allow their citizens to protect themselves when they're outside their homes," said Rep. Larry Crawford, the Centertown Republican who sponsored the bill.

Each chamber overwhelmingly signed off on the measure by margins that suggested it would have enough support to override a Holden veto. That support, however, could shift between now and September, when the General Assembly will convene for its veto session.

The House approved a Senate version of the legislation that made only one significant change: Missourians would have to be 23 instead of 21 to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

Rep. Barbara Fraser, a St. Louis Democrat, said the Senate's amendment raising the qualifying age had created a tricky loophole in the bill. Fraser said language in the bill still would allow someone 21 or older to carry a concealed weapon in the glove box of a car.

Current law requires that a weapon in a vehicle be in plain view.

"You think it's OK for a 21-year-old to have a gun concealed in a car in front of an amusement park, but that same person would have to wait two years until they get out of the car?" Fraser asked Crawford.

Crawford said it would be better to allow people to conceal weapons in their vehicles rather than having the guns in plain view of thieves when their cars are parked.

Other lawmakers asked Crawford why the bill would keep private the list of those holding permits.

"I didn't want these people with conceal-carry endorsements (permits) to be a target for thieves," Crawford said.

Rep. Curt Dougherty, an Independence Democrat, was among a handful of Democrats who spoke in favor of the bill. He said the measure would have little effect on the number of guns among the populace.

"The people who don't want this don't have to buy the permit," Dougherty said. "Just because this law comes out doesn't mean people are going to go out and get a firearm."

Under the bill, permits would be valid for three years and would be denied to anyone with a felony or a misdemeanor conviction involving a gun or a bomb. Applications would be denied if, in the previous five years, the applicant had a misdemeanor conviction for a crime of violence or more than one conviction for drunken driving or drug possession.

Permits also could not be given to anyone who had been found mentally incompetent or who had been committed to a mental institution in the previous five years. The bill also would allow people who have concealed-carry permits issued by other states to carry concealed guns in Missouri.

Applicants also would have to undergo eight hours of training and hit a target at a distance of 21 feet with at least 15 of 20 shots.

Rep. Rick Johnson, a High Ridge Democrat, noted that the bill would allow lawmakers to get permits and carry concealed weapons into the Capitol unless the House and Senate voted to ban them. Crawford said lawmakers could vote to outlaw the weapons, but added, "If there were terrorists on the loose, we might want to change that rule back so we could carry in here."

The House passed the bill 105-40, four votes short of the number needed to override a governor's veto. However, some members were absent Monday because of tornado damage in their areas, and the measure is expected to garner the 109 votes necessary for an override.

The measure last week passed the Senate following a 12-hour filibuster spread over two days. The filibuster ended after Sen. Harold Caskey, a Butler Democrat and the bill's Senate handler, used a rare parliamentary maneuver to shut off debate. Democrats were infuriated at Caskey, who holds a party leadership position as caucus chairman.

The Senate passed the bill with the requisite 23 votes to override a veto. One of those came from Sen. Ken Jacob, a Columbia Democrat, who switched his "no" vote to "yes" in order to later call for a vote to reconsider the bill.

Caskey cut off Jacob's maneuver by quickly moving for reconsideration himself. That motion failed, preventing Jacob from doing the same thing later.

Without Jacob's "yes" vote, supporters would have to find one more senator to switch sides for an override.

To reach Tim Hoover, Jefferson City reporter, call 1-(573) 634-3565 or send e-mail to thoover@kcstar.com.

On the Web

The concealed-carry bill is H.B. 349. Bills are available on the Internet at www.house.state.mo.us.

How they voted

Here is how area representatives voted on the proposal to allow Missourians to carry concealed handguns:

• Republicans supporting the proposal: Brian Baker, Belton; Jason Brown, Platte City; Gary Dusenberg and Bryan Pratt, both of Blue Springs; Bob Johnson and Brian Yates, both of Lee's Summit; Susan Phillips, Kansas City; Rex Rector, Harrisonville; and Annie Reinhart, Liberty.

• Democrats supporting the proposal: Curt Dougherty, Independence; Ray Salva, Sugar Creek; and Mike Sager and Terry Young, both of Raytown.

• Democrats opposing the proposal: Dan Bishop, John Burnett, Marsha Campbell, Melba Curls, Cathy Jolly, Jenee Lowe, Kate Meiners, Vicki Walker and Yvonne Wilson, all of Kansas City; and Trent Skaggs, North Kansas City.

• Democrats who did not vote: Craig Bland and Sharon Sanders Brooks, both of Kansas City; Paul LeVota, Independence; and Philip Willoughby, Gladstone.
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