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Posted: 4/19/2002 2:23:58 PM EDT
Proposal could mean another vote here on concealed weapons
BY TERRY GANEY
Post-Dispatch Jefferson City Bureau
04/18/2002 08:53 PM


JEFFERSON CITY - Counties that rejected a proposal three years ago to let people carry concealed weapons could get another chance to vote under a new proposal pending in the Missouri House.

Under an amendment proposed, the counties that voted for the hidden-gun referendum in 1999 could issue permits for concealed weapons, while counties that turned it down - including St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County - could opt for another election to reconsider the issue.

Minority Leader Catherine Hanaway, R-Warson Woods, has proposed giving people the right to carry concealed weapons if they live in the counties that approved the 1999 proposal, which was called Proposition B.

In the statewide election, Missouri voters rejected the concealed weapons issue by a vote of 634,809 "yes" to 678,652 "no." The proposition won in nearly all counties, but lost overwhelmingly in the urban areas, including St. Louis and the counties of St. Louis and St. Charles.

When a new concealed weapons bill came up on the House floor Thursday, Hanaway tried to amend it so that concealed weapons would be allowed in some parts of the state, but not in others. Residents of the counties where concealed weapons had been approved would be allowed to carry those weapons all over the state, including in the counties where it had been rejected.

Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, opposed Hanaway's amendment, saying it made people from the St. Louis area "second-class citizens."

The concealed weapons measure is sponsored by Rep. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring. He said his bill is different from Proposition B, and that a reconsideration of the issue was justified because "the mood of the people has changed."

His bill would allow people who have passed a background check and a weapons safety course to get a permit from the county sheriff to carry a concealed weapon. A person would have to be at least 21 years old to qualify. Ex-convicts, people dishonorably discharged or those known to be mentally ill would be disqualified. Concealed weapons could not be carried in places such as government buildings, some establishments where alcoholic beverages are served, airports, schools, amusement parks and churches among others.

The bill has the support of the National Rifle Association. The Million Mom March is lobbying against it.

While the House took no final action on the bill, there was clearly plenty of support for it. The House rejected several attempts to change the bill. Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia, was unsuccessful when she tried to prohibit people who have been convicted of domestic violence from getting concealed weapons permits. Rep. Jack Hickey, D-Bridgeton, failed in an attempt to require a person to be licensed separately for each pistol or revolver that the person intended to carry. The House quit Thursday with Hanaway's amendment pending.

House Speaker Jim Kreider, D-Nixa, predicted the House would pass the bill next week but that it would die in the Senate.

"The majority of the House believes in that fundamental freedom," Kreider said. "I'm not too optimistic over in the Senate."

The bill is HB 1729.

Reporter Terry Ganey:
E-mail: tganey@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 573-635-6178
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