Looking ahead this year, what new gun laws could affect your carry rights? Will Missouri gun laws be changing? Are red flag laws likely to be enacted? Let’s review some of the proposed bills that have been pre-filed for the 2021 legislative session.
Both the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate are controlled by strong conservative majorities that are pro-Second Amendment. It is not expected that your gun rights will face any successful attacks at the state level. In fact, law-abiding gun owners could see some positive legislation this year. But despite strong majorities by pro-Second Amendment lawmakers, anti-gun law makers have still been busy at work, and we are likely to see more legislative proposals now that the session has begun. Law-abiding gun owners need to remain aware of anti-gun efforts and stay vigilant.
State Law Proposals in Missouri
Let’s start with red flag laws. HB 126 has been pre-filed by Rep. Ian Mackey. His bill seeks to enact a new Extreme Risk Protection Order (“ERPO”) which would work similarly to red flag laws enacted in other states. It would authorize the seizure of firearms by court order of a person considered to be a significant risk to themselves or others by the court after a hearing and a determination of probable cause. Probable cause is the same relatively vague standard used by police officers in making arrest determinations. It is less than the “more likely than not” proof burden that is used in civil cases. This bill would enact an incredibly low burden of proof by which judges could issue warrants to seize guns from lawful gun owners after a hearing. Any person would be able to file for an ERPO against another individual. The proposed criteria for finding a person subject to an ERPO is arbitrary and broad reaching. We consider this bill to be dead on arrival.
What Bills May Strengthen Missouri Gun Rights?
HB 310, pre-filed by Rep. Bishop Davison, seeks to nullify any federal encroachments on the gun rights of the citizens of Missouri. The bill’s language would nullify present or future encroachments by the federal government on the gun rights of Missourians. Although a laudable bill worth watching, it may not pass the full House. The right of states to nullify federal laws would present far reaching constitutional questions and may not gather the support of all pro-second amendment lawmakers.
We are also keeping an eye on HB 212, pre-filed by Rep. Justin Hill. This bill would allow Missourians to lawfully transport or store a firearm in a motor vehicle including on public or private parking lots that currently prohibit guns. The bill’s language would expand carry rights in a commonsense manner allowing lawful gun owners to store guns in their locked car. Currently, some employers prohibit firearm possession on their private property. HB 212 would eliminate that prohibition as long the gun is kept in a locked motor vehicle, but it allows employers to adopt policies for the safe storage of firearms while on their property. There are some exceptions to the key provisions of the bill, such as where possession of a firearm is prohibited by federal or state law. HB 212, or some version thereof, may have traction to pass in 2021.
Federal Proposals on the Horizon
Last session, the 116th U.S. Congress proposed assault weapons bans, red flag orders, mandatory reporting of NICS denials to law enforcement, and countless other anti-2A legislation. All of these individual proposals were awful, but none were worse than the omnibus HR 5717 (Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020), which would have incorporated the worst provisions of each of these proposals. If you want a preview of what anti-gun bills filed during the 117th Congress could look like, pay attention to HR 5717. The 117th Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2021, and their term ends on January 3, 2023. To learn about how federal law is made, check out The Legislative Process by the United States House of Representatives, and stay tuned. We are keeping a close watch for bills and resolutions that would affect Second Amendment rights.
Should you have any questions about the bills discussed or the legislative process, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
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