I sharply criticized the proposed ban — part of a broad pro-gun-rights law that passed both houses of the Missouri Legislature, and was then vetoed by the Governor (partly on free speech grounds) — two weeks ago. A week later, the state House voted to override the veto, but the state Senate override failed, by one vote; two Republican leaders, Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey and Majority Leader Ron Richard, voted against the override. Here is an excerpt from Dempsey’s statement explaining his vote:
I came to the State Capitol voting for policies in which I deeply believed. One of these was defending the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. I am a proud and faithful supporter of the Second Amendment…. Anyone who looks at my record over the past decade will know that my support of gun rights is unassailable….
[But o]ver the past few weeks, several concerns have been raised about the constitutionality of House Bill 436. I have been advised by my own legal staff that this bill very likely violates both the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech guaranteed to all Americans. My love of the Second Amendment does not trump my love for the First. [Dempsey also had two other objections. -EV] …
My support of the Second Amendment is firm and enduring, but the issues that have been raised deserve to be addressed. I wish I could simply propose an amendment to fix the flaws that have come to light but unfortunately, the Missouri Constitution (which I also respect) does not allow us to amend a bill during veto session — we are forced to make a “take it or leave it” decision. Small errors or blemishes can sometimes be overlooked because of the overall good the legislation will do.
However, this bill raises enough concerns that I could not support it in its present condition.
The new session of the Legislature starts in less than four months. As pro tem, I will do all I can to fast-track a bill that will address the serious concerns I have raised. I believe we can pass a much better bill next year, and I am fully supportive of that effort.
The STL Beacon has an interview with Dempsey, one of the two Republicans who voted against the override (the gun bill discussion begins at 14:50), and also had another story last week. Thanks to James Hood for the pointer.