Conservative lawmakers this year are taking the push to strip limits on owning and carrying guns from rural areas to urban Missouri, the latest front for debate on gun rights in the state that comes months after voters further enshrined gun rights in the constitution.
Momentum to pass measures expanding access to firearms has been building for years, and Second Amendment supporters in August were dealt a big success with the passage of a state constitutional amendment. That change, Amendment 5, declares the right to keep and bear arms is “unalienable” and that laws restricting gun rights are subject to “strict scrutiny.”
With that win under their belt, some GOP lawmakers this session are pushing for a measure to allow firearms on buses and trains, along with a slew of other measures to expand who can carry guns and where.
The public transit bill by Republican Rep. Ron Hicks of St. Peters, which is pending a vote in a House committee, would have the greatest impact in urban areas. That could inflame debate on the bill, with some of the strongest opposition to expanding gun rights coming from big cities, said David Kimball, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Democratic Rep. Mike Colona of St. Louis has blasted the bill as infringing on cities’ rights to enact public safety policies best suited for them, and lobbyists for public transit systems in St. Louis, Kansas City and other cities across the state testified against the bill.