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Concealed Weapons Defeated

March 28, 1996
By: Joseph Morton
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - In a vote that featured strange alliances between opponents and supporters of concealed weapons, the Missouri Senate Wednesday night (March 27) rejected a bill that would let voters decide the question for themselves.

The Senate voted 17-16 against the bill, which would put the issue on the Aug. 6 statewide ballot. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Danny Staples, D-Emminence, said after the vote that he wasn't sure how it was defeated.

"I haven't exactly figured it out yet," Staples said. "I thought there were more people in the Missouri Senate that supported concealed weapons."

Wednesday's close battle featured numerous puzzling votes by senators such as Sen. Harold Caskey, D-Butler, who voted against the bill despite his sponsorship of similar legislation last year.

Sen. Joe Moseley, D-Columbia, opposes concealed weapons, but voted against preliminary approval the bill Wednesday.

The strange alignment of senators was due primarily to the amendment passed by the Senate on Tuesday which put issue to a referendum.

Moseley said the amendment alienated some supporters of concealed weapons, because they suspect voters would reject the measure. Such rejection by voters would prevent legislators from bringing concealed weapons up for debate for several years, Moseley said.

"You had some of the strongest proponents of concealed weapons voting against it," he said.

By the same token, some outspoken opponents of concealed weapons voted for the bill.

"I voted to perfect the bill because I think this is the version we should be dealing with," Moseley said. Moseley added that he will vote against final passage of the bill.

Moseley sponsored an array of amendments that toned down the bill before the vote was taken. One of these added provisions which would prevent people from carrying concealed weapons into bars, stadiums and amusement parks.

Other amendments included sections that would prevent concealed weapons within certain distances of schools.

Despite the bill's defeat Wednesday, Staples vowed its return in the near future.

"Nothing is really dead in the Missouri Senate until it's dead twice," Staples said.

Once a bill has been voted down, a motion of reconsideration can bring it back onto the Senate floor. To rescue the concealed weapons bill, one of the senators who voted against it must make such a motion by Tuesday.

Staples said he expects the bill to come back up and be passed by the Senate today.

One senator who voted against the bill, Sen. John Schneider, D-St. Louis County, said he will make the motion of reconsideration, despite his opposition to concealed weapons.

"I think this should go to a vote of the people," Schneider said. "I will vote to put concealed weapons on the ballot and then I'll vote against it in that election."