By John Sharp
Voting along party lines, Republicans in the Missouri General Assembly on September 14 overrode Governor Jay Nixon’s vetoes of two of the most controversial bills passed during this year’s regular session of the legislature – a law allowing persons to carry loaded concealed weapons without a permit and a voter ID law.
The veto of the lengthy bill that makes numerous changes in Missouri’s weapons laws including allowing non-felons 19 years of age and older to carry loaded concealed weapons on their persons — without getting a concealed carry permit or passing the background check and 8-hour firearm safety course required to obtain a permit — was overridden by a vote of 112-41 in the House and 24-6 in the Senate. (It takes a two-thirds majority of all members in both the House and Senate to override a veto.)
Senator Jason Holsman, himself a concealed carry permit holder and self-described supporter of the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, said during Senate debate that he doesn’t think it’s too much of a burden for persons who want to carry concealed weapons to take the 8-hour training course required.
The permitless carry provision will become effective on January 1, although other provisions of the bill take effect 30 days after passage.
The bill also enacts “stand your ground” provisions that allow persons to use deadly force in a public place with no duty to try to withdraw from the situation if possible whenever they reasonably feel they or others are threatened with the risk of grave physical injury or death.
The override, which was strongly supported by the National Rifle Association and other gun owners’ groups such as the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance, passed despite the opposition of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, the mayors of Kansas City and St. Louis, and groups that favor additional gun control such as Moms Demand Action.
The veto of the bill that will require voters who only have a non-photo form of identification to sign a statement of who they are under penalty of perjury in order to vote was overridden by a vote of 115-41 in the House and 24-7 in the Senate.
This bill will not take effect, however, unless voters in November approve Constitutional Amendment 6 to the Missouri constitution to authorize requiring government-issued photo identification in order to vote. The Missouri Supreme Court struck down a voter ID law in 2006 ruling it placed a “heavy and substantial burden” on the right to vote. If Amendment 6 passes, the law will take effect June 1, 2017.
If that amendment passes, the General Assembly could modify the legislation just enacted to require all voters to submit government-issued photo identification when voting. However, passage of the amendment would not guarantee that the federal courts would not strike down a voter ID law for violating the U.S. constitution as has happened in four states within the last two months – North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.