Missouri Republicans reacted swiftly to President Joe Biden’s action Thursday to address gun violence in the United States.
The GOP leaders of the Senate vowed to put at least one pending bill on a fast track in a bid to block the Democratic president’s moves.
Biden announced six executive actions Thursday, including a tightening of regulations for buyers of “ghost guns” — homemade firearms that usually are assembled from parts and often lack serial numbers used to trace them.
He also proposed a rule to tighten regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces like the one used in Boulder, Colorado, in a shooting last month that left 10 dead.
And the administration is publishing model legislation intended to make it easier for states to adopt their own “red flag” laws, allowing individuals to petition a court to authorize police to confiscate weapons from a person deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Missouri Republican leaders, who have worked to promote and protect gun ownership, signaled they would pursue passage of legislation that would declare as invalid all federal laws that infringe on the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.
“Obviously when the Biden administration is threatening Second Amendment rights, that conversation is going to heat up rapidly. I definitely think that brings the conversation to the forefront,” said Senate President Dave Schatz, who is mulling a bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Roy Blunt.
House Bill 85, titled the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” seeks to empower “Missouri’s ability to self-govern without control by the federal government.”
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Republic, has already won approval in the GOP-controlled House and is awaiting further action in the Senate.
During his campaign, Biden promised to prioritize new gun control measures as president, including enacting universal background check legislation, banning online sales of firearms and the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
In his address Thursday, Biden said, “No amendment to the Constitution is absolute. You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater and call it freedom of speech.”
That comment brought criticism from Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, who said it was “one of the more asinine and more egregious comments I’ve ever heard come out of the mouth of the president of the United States.”
Rowden may be considering a bid for Congress if U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler decides to run for Senate.
Democrats in the Legislature vowed to fight the GOP expansion of gun rights. Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said Missouri is already one of the most “gun-friendly” states and state lawmakers should spend their last five weeks of the legislative session focusing on job creation, transportation funding and health care.
He said GOP reaction to Biden’s proposal is more about politics than policy.
“They tend to play to their base,” Rizzo said.
Other gun rights measures pending in the Missouri Legislature would allow Missourians to conceal-carry firearms on public transit like St. Louis buses.
Another would guarantee the right of Missourians to carry firearms in the trunk of their personal vehicles.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.