Bill would loosen many Missouri gun laws

Some of the state's most contentious firearms issues return to the state Capitol this week.

Hearings begin on Tuesday for a bill that combines many proposals put forth by house and senate Republicans last year in response to tighter gun regulations floated after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The bill's provisions include:

1. Declaring many federal firearms regulations invalid, including some registration and tracking laws, confiscation orders and prohibitions on the possession and use of specific types of firearms;

2. Allowing anyone with a concealed-carry permit to carry a firearm openly anywhere in the state;

3. Letting schools designate one or more teachers as school protection officers who would be allowed to carry concealed firearms on school property once they had completed an SPO training program;

4. Forbidding healthcare professionals from asking about or documenting a patient's status as a firearm owner.

5. Lowering the minimum age for a concealed-carry permit from 21 to 19, and;

6. Providing that any person who is in the country illegally and has a firearm in their possession commits the offense of unlawful possession of a firearm.

The proposal brought mixed reactions on Columbia's streets Sunday afternoon. Kansas City resident Dan Jones said he thought all of the bill's provisions went too far.

"I really support people using guns for recreation and for agrarian reasons, maybe even in the home, I can support that, but as far as having people out carrying guns in public, I just think it's asking for trouble," he said.

Columbia resident Clint Wilson said he had no problem with most of the bill's provisions. He said anything involving concealed carry, whether it's minimum licensing age or arming teachers, comes down to firearm training and skill. The only provision he said he did not like was the open-carry provision, which he felt could be construed as a threat.

The bill's survival is far from guaranteed even in this heavily Republican legislature. Out of the dozens of bills containing these or similar provisions last session, very few reached the house or senate floors. One bill similar to this year's proposal passed the legislature, but was vetoed by Governor Nixon. The senate was unable to override that veto.