In The Press
Lawsuit To Block License-To-Carry Law

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Opponents file suit to stop concealed guns

Tim Bryant and Jo Mannies

Opponents of Missouri's new law allowing qualified citizens to carry concealed guns filed suit today in St. Louis to block its enforcement.

The plaintiffs, who include several St. Louis-area state legislators and the mayor pro tem of Kansas City, contend in the suit that the new law is unconstitutional.

Since 1875, the Missouri Constitution has included a provision that says the right to bear arms does not justify the right to carry concealed weapons. The 1945 state constitution makes the issue even more clear, the suit contends.

The concealed carry legislation, which became law when the Legislature overrode Gov. Bob Holden's veto, is scheduled to take effect on Saturday.

The plaintiffs filed the suit in St. Louis Circuit Court. But their effort to block the law's enforcement might be heard in Jefferson City. Attorney General Jay Nixon's office said Cole County Circuit Court is the appropriate venue for the case and is asking that the case be moved to Jefferson City.

A St. Louis judge is expected to consider that request this afternoon.

Gov. Bob Holden says he would back an initiative petition drive to overturn the state's new law allowing qualified Missourians to carry concealed weapons.

Although such an effort isn't now under way, Holden spokeswoman Mary Still said Tuesday that the instigators could count on the governor's public support. "We would be active. He would play whatever role the sponsors would need him to play," Still said.

The critics, who include a number of area elected officials, say it violates several provisions of the state constitution. Still said the governor "sees numerous flaws in the law, which invite a lawsuit."

Holden first stated his support for the idea Monday, when he talked to reporters after a news conference in St. Louis, where he announced a ban on concealed weapons in all state buildings.

The new law is slated to go into effect Saturday, after the state Legislature voted last month to override the governor's veto of the measure.

State Auditor Claire McCaskill, a fellow Democrat expected to challenge Holden next year, offered similar sentiments late Tuesday. "I am opposed to concealed carry, and I would support every effort to reverse this law and will work to tighten the restrictions to make them meaningful. I am disappointed in the leadership that got us here," she said.

State Republican Party spokesman John Hancock blasted the suit as "yet another example of Bob Holden and the Democrats using the liberal judges they have appointed to undo the will of the people."

Hancock added that the state GOP had yet to take a position on the initiative petition idea.

Copyright © 2003 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Republished with the permission of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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