I recently wrote the letter below in regards to Senate Bill 656, gun legislation that the governor has since vetoed. This matter will again be brought up before the Legislature in September during veto session. This letter appeared in the Washington Missourian:
No matter how you choose to exercise your constitutional right to defend yourself, a bill on the governor’s desk that I have been happy to champion would provide citizens with a wide range of self-defense options if the governor signs it into law. Senate Bill 656 will give Missourians a choice between the standard five-year conceal and carry permit or a 10-, 20- or even 50-year carry permit, as well as permitless carry.
Senate Bill 656 recognizes that for many of us in Franklin County, who rarely go into a large city or leave the state, simply need a lifetime permit that allows for a five-year automatic background check. This bill offers us the protection of concealed carry without having to go through the financially burdensome and time-consuming process of getting a CCW permit. On the other hand, many law-abiding citizens want to have a CCW permit to travel; bearing this in mind, Senate Bill 656 offers multiple permit options so that citizens can avoid the time and money of repetitive renewals.
The opposition to Senate Bill 656 is being driven by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He has spent millions pushing his anti-gun agenda all across the country and attacking our fundamental right of self-defense at every turn. Here in the Show-Me State, Bloomberg’s front groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action are attempting to mislead Missourians into believing that the legislation is something it plainly is not.
Let me be clear on this point: nothing in Senate Bill 656 changes existing state and federal laws that prohibit felons and other violent criminals from possessing firearms, nor does it allow criminals to carry guns. As we all know, criminals will continue to break the law, regardless of what it says. This bill is about law-abiding citizens and their right to self-defense.
The Bloomberg groups claim that Senate Bill 656, “takes away an opportunity for the state to discover that a person with an active permit to carry hidden, loaded weapons, has subsequently committed a violent crime and thus become prohibited from possessing guns,” and the bill would “dismantle” the current permit system. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Senate Bill 656 does not remove the current permit system. Just as with the standard 5-year permit, the new permit options will be subject to the same suspension and revocation provisions, as well as a background check every five years. All this legislation does is give law-abiding Missourians more options to exercise their right to self-defense — nothing more, nothing less.
I know my friends and neighbors fully support the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones from violent attacks, both in the home and while in public. Senate Bill 656 recognizes this most basic of rights by giving Missouri citizens the option that best suits their needs, based on their circumstances.
All of us should be asking the most simple of questions: do we trust law-abiding Missourians to help make our streets safer, or do we trust out-of-state anti-gun groups who are trying to push an agenda that has nothing to do with public safety in Missouri?
I ask the governor to please allow Senate Bill 656 to become law. By doing so, he can show that he trusts the law-abiding citizens of Missouri who placed their trust in him to do the right thing on their behalf. Twice.
Thank you for reading this weekly column. Please contact my office at (573) 751-3678 if you have any questions.