This week, Senate Bill 656 received final approval from the Missouri House of Representatives, and the veto by Governor Jay Nixon (D) was overridden. Things started late Wednesday when the state Senate took up SB 656 during the veto override session and approved it by a 23 to 8 vote. The House approved this measure by a 117 to 39 vote, with supporters from both sides of the aisle.
As you might recall from an earlier ILA alert, Governor Nixon vetoed SB 656 and stated:
“Arming teachers will not make our schools safer,” Governor Nixon said. “I have supported and will continue to support the use of duly authorized law enforcement officers employed as school resource officers, but I cannot condone putting firearms in the hands of educators who should be focused on teaching our kids.”
Sponsored by state Senator Will Kraus (R-8) and handled in the House by state Representative Kevin Elmer (R-139), SB 656 addresses the following issues:
- Allows the open carrying of firearms in all localities with a carry permit. Some localities currently have ordinances that ban open carrying of firearms, even by those with a valid carry permit.
- Allows a school district to designate a teacher or administrator to qualify as a school protection officer and carry a firearm on school property with the proper training. Current law already allows a school district to allow those with a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm on school property – this would allow school personnel to undergo extensive police training.
- States that no law shall require health care professionals to inquire about a patient’s ownership or possession of firearms and prohibits the documentation of such information into a database.
- Reduces the age from 21 to 19 for those wishing to apply for a concealed carry permit.
- Allows someone to qualify for a concealed carry permit using a revolver or semi-automatic pistol, rather than having to qualify with each firearm.
- Requires one instructor for every forty people for the classroom portion of a firearms safety training course. Current law allows only forty people per classroom regardless of the number of instructors present.
- Specifies that no public housing authority shall prohibit a lessee or a member of the lessee’s immediate household or guest from personally possessing firearms within an individual residence, common areas, or from carrying or transporting firearms to and from such residence in a manner allowed by law.
SB 656 will take effect thirty days after the veto session.
Also gaining approval by the Missouri General Assembly were a couple of budgetary line items relating to school safety and security measures. House Bill 2008 (§ 8.025) and House Bill 2002 (§ 2.035), along with SB 656 and other measures already in place, address the issue of creating a safer school environment by making Missouri more compliant with the NRA’s School Shield program.
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