Veto session gun law fight pits cities against Republicans

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and others oppose a state gun bill.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and others oppose a state gun law.

A political gunfight is on, and the mayor, police chief and Jackson County prosecutor took to the street this morning and drew first.

Outside a house at 4424 Montgall Ave., they urged a few brave lawmakers to vote to uphold Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of Senate Bill 656.

The veto session begins in Jefferson City today with Republicans hoping to override that veto and many more.

Mayor Sly James said there is nothing good about the bill for cities and it represents the state trying to impose its gun laws on them – done by the same state lawmakers who continually grouse about the feds imposing laws on the states.

James attacked the bill point by point.

It would allow the open carry of guns, nullifying a recent city law that forbids it.

That would endanger police and hurt business, James said.

“We don’t need a lot of people walking around with rifles strapped to their back or firearms strapped on their leg,” he said.

He asked how people would feel about eating in a burger joint next to an armed man.

“It gives a whole new meaning to dine and dash,” he said.

The bill also would lower the age for a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19 years old.

James noted that society has decided not to let people under 21 drink, but “instead of putting alcohol in them, we’re going to give them a lethal weapon.”

And the bill would forbid housing authorities from not allowing renters or guests to have guns on the premises.

“Whose interests are we protecting here?” he asked, certainly not those of people who live in the housing.

The bill would also allow schools to designate teachers and staffers as armed protection officers.

Kansas City Schools Superintendent Steve Green took the podium to attack that.

“I shudder at the thought,” he said. “Adding additional guns to the educational environment is not the answer.”

There are already police officers at the schools, he said, and “a teacher cannot replace a law enforcement officer and a law enforcement officer cannot replace a teacher.”

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said the bill would put police and children at more risk and limit the ability to prosecute gun offenses.

James, who held the event across from a house where he grew up, said bringing people back to the inner city depended on reducing violent crime and guns used in it.

The state has gone way overboard in politically motivated gun laws, including passage of a recent constitutional amendment granting more gun rights, he said.

It is getting to the point of insanity, he said, and the next proposal will be to make it mandatory for everyone to have a gun.

As for stopping SB 656, he said, “We’re looking for a few good legislators who have the courage to stand up for what they know is right….”

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