State Lawmakers React to President's Gun Proposals

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JEFFERSON CITY - State lawmakers weighed in Wednesday after President Obama unveiled his new gun policy proposals.

Sen. Joseph Keaveny, D-St. Louis, said he thought the president's proposals were very reasonable. He said he was particularly pleased by the proposed universal background checks and assault weapons ban.

"I can't think of a good reason why we allow these military-grade weapons to be sold over the counter to any individual without any reserve. If you walk into a gun store and you have a clean background, you can buy an assault weapon," he said.

Keaveny said any gun legislation proposals should take care not to infringe on constitutional rights, but said he doesn't think Obama's proposals do so.

Even before the president spoke, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, rose in the senate to denounce the president's proposal as an erosion of constitutional rights. He later told KOMU 8 News he was concerned by the president's use of executive power to modify a constitutional right. He said he was concerned agencies might use the president's executive orders as if they had the same authority as law passed by Congress.

"It's about bedrock constitutional principles of rights that we all possess as citizens of the United States, and anytime an executive is looking at basically going around congress because they want something quickly, that's really not how our constitution is set up," Schaefer said.

While the president's gun proposal divided some lawmakers along party lines, others partially bucked their parties' positions. In the house, Rep. Stephen Webber, a Columbia Democrat who fought as a Marine in Iraq, said most of Obama's executive orders deal with the actions of the executive branch and as a result are in order. Webber expressed concern the laws would be unenforceable.

"There's 300 million guns out there, hundreds of millions of high-capacity magazines, millions of quote-unquote assault weapons," he said.

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, said he thought some of the president's proposals, such as researching gun violence and increasing mental health resources, were reasonable, but he was concerned about the use of citizens' private information.

"I do have concerns about protecting citizens, information about citizens, and making sure the government isn't going on witch hunts," Burlison said.