JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's mayor accused Missouri legislators Tuesday of trying to "double down on stupid" in their push to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a measure that would broadly expand the rights of gun owners.
Sly James made the comments during a phone call with reporters as the Republican-led Legislature prepared to convene a short session Wednesday to consider overriding numerous vetoes by the Democratic governor. With the guns bill and a measure imposing a photo identification requirement for voters among those on the docket, Nixon's status as the most-overridden governor in state history is almost certain to expand after the veto session.
If the guns bill garners the necessary two-thirds vote to withstand the veto, people would be allowed to carry a concealed weapon most places in the state even without a background check or gun safety training. Missouri would join 10 other states with laws that allow concealed weapons to be carried without a permit, according to the National Rifle Association.
Law enforcement groups, including the Missouri Police Chiefs Association and Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, have criticized the measure over safety concerns.
"Rather than looking for solutions to our gun violence problems, our Legislature is poised to double down on stupid and override governor Nixon's veto," James, a Democrat, said in the conference call, which also included local law enforcement officials.
Claims by James, Nixon and other opponents that the legislation would make Missouri less safe are "simply not true," NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said Tuesday.
"Criminals don't abide by gun control laws, so denying law-abiding Missourians their constitutional right to self-protection doesn't keep criminals from committing crimes," she told The Associated Press.
Besides eliminating the permit requirement for concealed weapons, the proposal includes several self-defense provisions — including one that would expand the so-called "castle doctrine" that allows homeowners or renters to use deadly force against intruders. Under the new bill, invited guests such as baby sitters also would be able to use such force if confronted while inside the home they're visiting.
The NRA is running a statewide digital ad encouraging viewers to call their area lawmakers and urge them to override Nixon, who is described as "blocking legislation guaranteeing your right to defend yourself."
Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund launched digital ads in opposition to the bill and has run ads in newspapers and mailers to voters in some Republican senators' districts.
Also closely watched is a vetoed bill that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls, with a few exceptions. The requirements wouldn't take effect unless voters approve a proposed constitutional amendment, which is needed because the Missouri Supreme Court previously struck down similar requirements as unconstitutional.
In a letter explaining his veto, Nixon said the measure would "disproportionately" impact senior citizens, people with disabilities and others who have been lawfully voting but don't have the government-issued photo ID required under the bill.
Whether Nixon's concerns swayed any of the 136 lawmakers who voted in favor of the measure is unclear. There were 46 senators and representatives who voted against it.
Bill sponsor Rep. Justin Alferman said he's not aware of any fellow Republicans who plan to switch their previous votes in favor of the bill.