handgunSenate bill 613, known as the SECOND AMENDMENT PRESERVATION ACT is moving forward in the Missouri legislature. The bill is similar to one that was almost passed last year over the governor’s veto.

Key provisions are:

Declares invalid all federal laws or orders that infringe on the federal and state right to keep and bear arms. Such infringments would include confiscation, taxing, registering, tracking, selling and trading of firearms, ammunition or accessories.

 – No law enforcement officer or agency may enforce such infringing federal laws and they may be sued by Missouri citizens whose rights are thereby violated. Attorney’s fees and costs are paid by the loser of such lawsuit. The defendant cannot use governmental immunity as a defense. The violator may be arrested and charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This  is effective on August 28, 2017, or upon the passage of any federal law that curtails the right to keep and bear arms or upon the passage of similar laws in at least four other states.

The bill permits open-carrying of a firearm by persons holding a concealed carry permit in all political subdivisions in the state. It also forbids the disarming or restraint of any persons carrying a handgun except where there is a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. No political subdivision may outlaw the otherwise legal use of a firearm in the defense of persons or property.

Provides for the training and designation of school teachers or administrators as armed “school protection officers.”

– There is also a provision that no health care professional may be required by law to inquire if patients own firearms, or to document or notify authorities of such ownership, unless by court order. [Bill modified 01/27/2014:  no longer prohibits doctors from documenting ownership status, but it does require written permission to disclose that information]

Lowers the age to obtain a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19.

Makes possession of a firearm a felony for any person illegally present in the state.

* * *

Passage of this (or a similar) bill seems likely and if the governor signs (or his veto is overridden), this will create a confrontation with federal law enforcement agents who heavily count on the cooperation of local law enforcement.

The threat of state prosecution may not thwart federal agents, but it will give pause to any Missouri law enforcement agency or officer thinking about assisting federal efforts to enforce federal firearms laws. For an overview of Missouri Weapons offenses, see Chapter 571 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.

DWI – ignition interlock lets drivers back behind the wheel

jefferson city dwi lawyerMost of the new laws from the Missouri legislature this year went into effect this last week, but there are a few changes that go into effect at other times. The rules for obtaining a limited driving privilege changed effective July 1, 2013. For the better, I think. (see earlier post here)

  • In the past, the law prevented anyone from getting more than one limited driving privilege permit within a five year period. There is now no limitation to the number of limited privileges one may obtain. Section 302.309.3(6). Eligible persons may receive a limited driving privilege if their license is revoked for failure to submit to a chemical test (usually a breath test), but they must complete the first 90 days of the revocation and obtain a certified ignition interlock device.
  • Persons under a five or ten year license denial may now petition the court for a limited driving privilege without a waiting period. The court must grant a limited driving privilege to any person who otherwise is eligible, has filed proof of installation of a certified ignition interlock device, and has had no alcohol-related enforcement contacts since the contact that resulted in the license denial. [Note that any person with a felony DWI conviction will still be denied a limited privilege under section 302’309.3(6)(b), unless issued by the DWI court.]

There are also some other changes coming on March 3, 2014. One of those will allow first time DWI offenders a restricted driving privilege so they may drive to work [or to school, or to attend a SATOP program] during the 30 day suspension period.  Currently, they are not permitted to drive at all during that 30 days. Drivers will have to install an ignition interlock device to take advantage of this provision.


Come back with a warrant

Will Missouri nullify federal firearms laws?

Ionic60Now there is a bold proposal that directly defies the federal government by nullifying federal firearms laws. State Rep. Casey Guernsey of Bethany, Missouri has filed a bill, HB 170, which:

  1. makes it unlawful for any state or local officer or employee (such as police, prosecutors and judges) or any federal firearms dealer to attempt to enforce any federal law relating to personal firearms, accessories or ammunition owned or manufactured in the state and that remain in the state; and
  2. makes it a felony for any federal agent to attempt to enforce such federal law; and
  3. authorizes any person in violation of a such federal law to request the attorney general to defend him or her for such violation; and
  4. that any new federal law that restricts ownership of a semi-automatic firearm (or magazine of a firearm) or requires its registration, shall be unenforceable in the state of Missouri.

State nullification of federal law is the legal theory that individual US states have the right to invalidate any federal law that the  state finds unconstitutional. In the early years of the republic, nullification was considered by many states, but the federal courts–not unexpectedly–have not upheld the doctrine.

Obviously, if it came to a showdown, the federal government might be able–to some extent–enforce its firearms laws in Missouri. What would really gut federal enforcement efforts, however, would be the lack of any assistance from state and local law enforcement. Having the Missouri Attorney General defend citizens prosecuted by the United States Attorney would also be interesting.

Missouri bill: Armed teachers & principals coming?

House Bill 70 , filed 12/18/2012 by Representative Mike Kelley  of Lamar, MO would permit Missouri school teachers and administrators to carry a concealed handgun on school premises.

The change will be a modification of the current Missouri concealed carry law, and would allow teachers and administrators to carry concealed if they obtained a concealed-carry permit. They would have to go through the normal background checks and training required for such permits.

Nothing in the existing law prohibits the school officials or the governing body of a school/district from giving permission now for anyone to carry a concealed weapon in the school if they possess a permit. The effect of the new law would be to allow teachers and administrators to carry without express permission.


New Missouri law would outlaw droning without a warrant

Three cheers for Rep. Casey Guernsey  and HB 46, pre-filed on December 5, 2012. Guernsey’s proposed law would prohibit anyone–including law enforcement–from using “a drone or other unmanned aircraft to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation”

There are three exceptions:

  • If the property or business owner consents
  • If a court issues a search warrant permitting the use; or
  • If a law enforcement agency possesses reasonable suspicion that  swift action is necessary to prevent imminent danger to life.

Even with these exceptions, the proposed law would go a long way toward strangling, in its crib, the nascent danger of routine aerial surveillance in Missouri.

Now if there is some way to stop the federal government . . .


Expunging Criminal records in Missouri

I get phone calls all the time from people trying to hire me to have their criminal records expunged. Until now, I have always had to give the sad news that–with the exception of some ten-year-old DWI convictions– “They don’t do that here in Missouri.”  With the signing of HB 1647  last Tuesday, Missouri’s criminal expungement laws have been expanded.

The new law–chiefly meant to restore the right to possess firearms–goes into effect on August 28, 2012 and allows for the expungement of some felony and misdemeanor criminal records. The felonies must be over twenty years old and misdemeanors ten years old with no other criminal offenses (excluding traffic) committed during those time periods. Here is a rough list of crimes which may be expunged:

Felonies and Misdemeanors:

  • Passing a bad check
  • Fraudulently stopping payment of an instrument
  • fraudulent use of a credit device or debit device 

 Misdemeanors only:

  • Negligent setting of a fire
  • Tampering in the second degree (joyriding among other things)
  • Property damage
  • Trespass
  • Gambling
  • Peace disturbance
  • Drunkeness/Drinking in schools, churches and courthouses

Getting convictions expunged requires the filing of a petition in the court in which the person was found guilty.  The petition must name as defendants every state agency that may possess the conviction records. On top of filing and service fees, the new law tacks on an extra $100 filing fee. There must be a court hearing and a finding that the petitioner meets every criteria, including full payment of any restitution ordered; and that the “circumstances and behavior of the petitioner warrant the expungement;” and that the expungement is “consistent with the public welfare.”

Although a person is not required to hire a lawyer to obtain an expungement, most people will want an attorney to file the lawsuit and conduct an evidenciary hearing. Despite the time and cost, many people may find a criminal expungement worth pursuing.

New Missouri Crime Legislation

Here are some key criminal-related changes from this years just concluded legislative session. Click on the bill number for complete information:

Senate Bill 470, adds Missouri Department of Transportation vehicles that display white & amber lights to the list of emergency vehicles Missouri motorists must move over for.

Senate Bill 611 requires MoDOT to establish minimum yellow light change interval times for traffic-control devises.  These times must be established in accordance with nationally recognized engineering standards and cannot be less than the recognized national standard yellow light runtime. This corrects the popular practice of setting dangerously short yellow traffic lights to maximize the revenue from red-light cameras. See Could Red Light cameras be killing us — to make money

Senate Bill 755 creates the crime of disturbing a house of worship if one intentionally and unreasonably disturbs a building used for religious purposes by using profanity, rude or indecent behavior, or making noise.  It would also be a crime if a person engages in such behavior within the house of worship or so close to the building that the services are disturbed.

This is another attempt to end the funeral protests of our looneytune Kansas neighbors, the Westboro Baptist Church. It also makes it a crime if an individual intentionally injures, intimates, or interferes with any person exercising the right to religious freedom or who is seeking access to a house of worship.  Third offense is a felony.

Senate Bill 489, grandfathers in persons who obtained firearms safety training before the training requirements for concealed carry endorsement applicants were raised in 2011. This measure allows these certificate holders to receive a concealed carry endorsement without having to retake a training course.

Senate Bill 628, establishes the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, to address the crime of trafficking drugs, and evaluates certain offenses on the sexual offender registry.


If you see something, say something. Or go to jail.

There is a bill in the Missouri legislature which may have repercussions for years to come. Sen. Eric Schmitt (R- Glendale, MO) has sponsored SENATE BILL NO. 457, which would create the crime of failing to inform the government of sexual abuse of a child.

Unlike the practice in totalitarian countries, free countries like the United States have never been enthusiastic about forcing citizens to inform on other citizens. In this country, “Good Samaritian Laws” are laws that encourage people to aid other people in trouble. For example, healthcare professionals can give emergency help without worrying about getting sued for malpractice. Such laws encourage helping others. Aiding another is the right thing to do, but in a free country, rendering assistance it is not mandatory unless one has somehow contributed to the harm or otherwise has a relationship-based duty of care for that person.

A new kind of Good Samaritan law has become common in recent years. These are called “manditory reporting” laws. Under mandatory reporting laws, doctors, nurses, social workers, day care workers and others responsible for the care of children–who have reason to suspect that a child is being abused or neglected–must report it to the government or face criminal charges. These laws are justified when limited to persons who already have a duty of care toward the child.

Last year, sexual abuse scandals were in the news and decent people everywhere are outraged that persons, who knew of the abuse, said nothing. When the prospective witness is not a mandated reporter, however, nothing can be done to punish them for this morally reprehensible failure. Some states already have universal child abuse reporting laws, so it was only a matter of time before this bill surfaced in Missouri..

The bill takes that next step by making every person a government informer, whether they have any connection with–or duty toward–the child. Since this bill is directed at a truly despicable crime, child sexual abuse, it may well be supported by legislators who “do it for the children.”

With this well-intentioned bill, we cross over to a dangerous side of the street. Maybe in a year or two, it will be but a small step to cover other crimes, serious ones at first, less serious crimes later. Eventually, all crimes may be covered. Then, if you see anything and don’t say something, you go to jail. I hope lawmakers will consider where this bill may take us.

With an informer-oriented society, the police state would blossom, and like the twentieth century residents of fascist and communist states, a healthy fear of one’s neighbors, friends and even family could become a valuable survival skill.


New Missouri bill would soften gasoline price increases

December 1, 2011 was the kickoff for pre-filing bills in the Missouri legislature for the 2012 regular session. I was browsing the list of House bills filed (click here to see it), and one bill really left me scratching my head: It’s HOUSE BILL NO. 1044, sponsored by Representative Ray Weter of Nixa, Missouri.

The new law requires that gas stations “shall notify the general public” 24 hours in advance of any price increase of 3 or more cents per gallon. The notification must be visible from the adjacent roadway and the notifying signs must be provided free of charge to each gas station by its wholesale supplier.

Sometimes the purpose of a new law is obvious, but unless Representative Weter explains this bill, we can only guess. Signmakers–at least–will appreciate this little stimulus (although the reason the wholesaler has to pay for the signs is a mystery).

Perhaps Representative Weter was thinking how nice it would be if he knew that gas prices were going up tomorrow. He could fill his tank today and save money. I can appreciate the sentiment.

We are all annoyed to pull into a gas station and find that prices have just been raised. This new law would end that annoyance for all of us, but why stop with price increases? After all, it may be even more annoying to fill up today, only to find the price dropping tomorrow. I’m really just guessing who this bill is supposed to benefit.

Thinking ahead–to a time when this bill has become law–one can imagine Rep. Weter leaving Jefferson City after a hard week of lawmaking, when he notices he needs to fill the tank to get home to Nixa, Missouri. Oddly enough, the first gas station he passes has a long line of cars. He also notices a sign is flashing the message that gas will go up a dime tomorrow. (These signs, by then, have affectionately become known as “Weter” signs).

He drives on to find a line at every gas station, finally stopping at the last quick store at the edge of  town. He gets in the line and a half hour later reaches the pump as the manager walks out and apologizes that the station is fresh out of gas.

This well-intentioned legislation may turn out to be far more annoying than a rise in gas prices. Who can doubt it would periodically disrupt the sale of gasoline? Sure, it would be nice to know when gas is going up, but the same is equally true of tomorrow’s stock market index or the score of Monday night’s football game. It just doesn’t work if everbody else also knows.

Perhaps the public would be better served if this bill were amended to simply require all the gas stations to notify Rep. Weter of any price increases and leave the rest of us out of it.

 * * *

UPDATE: Rep Weter has now explained the bill and how long lines at gas stations could be valuable. From LandLineMag.com:

Weter said he was spurred to act after witnessing significant price increases in his district.

“People are short on cash in this day and age. And if I can save some money buying fuel one day to the next, I would like to know about it ahead of time,” Weter told Land Line.

Critics say the price postings would result in long lines at the fuel pump. That notion does not deter Weter.

“Long lines aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If that is the case, I think it sends a message. I think it would send a message that people like the idea of having advance notice,” he said.

Come back with a warrant

Missouri Special Session to stop TSA groping?

Most have seen the news that the Texas House unanimously passed a bill declaring that any government (read “TSA”) employee who “touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person including through the clothing, or touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person,” shall be guilty of a crime if such search is conducted without probable cause to believe the other person had committed a crime.

After the Texas house scored with that popular vote, the Senate stepped up to the plate ready to turn the bill into law. At this point, U.S. Attorney John Murphy sent a letter to the Texas Senate threatening to ground all Texas flights. “If HR 1937 were enacted, the federal government would likely seek an emergency stay of the statute,” Murphy wrote. “Unless or until such a stay were granted, TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers or crew.”

TSA messes with Texas privates

The Texans quickly backed down.

Feds 1, Lone Star State 0

Now the State of Utah may step up to protect the honor of their mothers & daughters, babies & grandmothers: Utah lawmaker’s proposal to ban TSA pat downs in Utah

Now Missouri Gov. Nixon is being urged to consider asking for a special legislative session to deal with Missouri’s spring disasters:

Disasters could be special session topic

Others have called for a session to consider the nuclear plant site permit. If this happens, might we see the legislature also take up an anti-TSA molestation bill? Might something be done about this ongoing assault?

If you’ve missed all the fuss, the gallery of abuses below will bring you up to speed (real photos should be distinguishable from the satirical ones):

Hard at work. Can’t you just hear this next guy grunting, even without sound?

Most people are unaware of the dangers of allowing un-inspected breasts onto an airplane, but apparently it’s the real deal!


Come back with a warrant