GOP ignores will of voters on concealed-carry issue

By Mike Anthony

We can’t say we were too surprised at how south county’s representatives in the Missouri Legislature cast their votes on the override of Gov. Bob Holden’s veto of legislation allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons.

The six state representatives from south county — Republicans Jim Lembke of Lemay, Jim Avery of Crestwood and Walt Bivins of Oak-ville and Democrats Michael Vogt of Affton, Patricia Yaeger of Lemay and Sue Schoemehl of Oakville — split along party lines with Republicans voting to override Gov. Holden’s veto and Democrats opposed.

In the Senate, Republican Anita Yeckel of Sunset Hills voted in favor of overriding the governor’s veto.

The override effort was successful as House Bill 349 allowing residents to carry concealed weapons will become effective Oct. 11.

Quite frankly, the votes cast by Rep. Lembke and Rep. Avery weren’t that big of a surprise as they are well known for their extremist views. But we were somewhat surprised by the votes cast by Sen. Yeckel and Rep. Bivins on this issue, particularly in light of comments they have made regarding concealed weapons.

In 1996, Sen. Yeckel told this newspaper that she was a “strong advocate of the Second Amendment and the rights of gun owners.” Noting the concealed-carry issue is a “contentious one,” she said, “I personally believe that if an individual has a legitimate and imminent concern for their safety that is verifiable, then they should be allowed concealed weapons. The best procedure to address this issue may be a statewide vote.”

In 1999, that statewide vote was conducted and the proposal, called Proposition B, was defeated, receiving 678,652 “no” votes and 634,809 “yes” votes. In St. Louis County, the proposition was overwhelmingly defeated, receiving 201,512 “no” votes and 88,334 “yes” votes.

Before being elected to the Missouri House, Rep. Bivins made comments similar to those made by Sen. Yeckel about placing the issue before voters.

Before the August 2002 primary, he said, “The voter should have an opportunity to approve such a measure, and I would support placing that measure before the voters if it would ensure felons and the mentally incompetent were excluded from being licensed.”

Before last November’s election, he said, “As a supporter of the Second Amendment, I personally voted for Prop B. However, our community voted against this issue over concern convicted felons and the mentally incompetent could obtain a concealed-carry license. I believe the voters have spoken, and the only way I would favor resubmitting concealed carry to the voters would be if the proposal contained additional provisions ensuring convicted felons and the mentally incompetent were excluded from obtaining a permit.”

Rep. Bivins did vote for an amendment that would have placed the concealed-carry issue before voters for a second time, but that amendment was defeated.

The defeat of that amendment apparently quelled Rep. Bivins’ resolve that “the voters have spoken” as he continued to support the legislation and voted to override the governor’s veto.

South county Republicans voting to override Gov. Holden’s veto of the concealed-carry legislation contend the measure is the strictest in the nation. That may or may not be true. We do know that some of the new law’s provisions are less stringent than those contained in Proposition B, which was defeated by voters. The “will of the people” doesn’t seem to mean much to our Republication legislators — except when it comes to taxes.

In fact, that was the argument Republican legislators used in refusing to place tax increases on gasoline and cigarettes before voters. As we’ve said before, Republican legislators apparently only want to adhere to the will of the people when it promotes their own agenda.