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House gives initial approval to allow concealed weapons
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missourians would be able to carry concealed weapons in motor vehicles and in many public places under a bill given initial House approval Monday.
No statewide vote is called for in the legislation sponsored by Rep. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring. Voters defeated a concealed-gun question in a 1999 referendum, and Gov. Bob Holden has said he would veto any measure similar to that ballot question.
The bill would let Missourians 21 and older obtain concealed-gun endorsements on their driver's licenses if they had no convictions for felonies or violent crimes and no recent history of mental incompetence. Applicants would have to undergo background checks and firearm training.
Missouri is among six states that prohibit concealed weapons.
"I've watched all of the other states that have it. ... They haven't had a problem with it," said House Majority Leader Wayne Crump, D-Potosi, whose own bill on allowing concealed guns in vehicles has already passed the House and awaits Senate action.
Barnitz's measure received first-round approval on a voice vote and needs final passage on a roll call before going to the Senate.
"I think we've got plenty of votes to pass it," Crump said.
By an announced vote of 87-45, the House defeated an amendment that would have required another statewide vote on concealed guns.
"We are making a serious mistake," said Rep. Dick Franklin, D-Independence. "For us to change this issue that the people have already spoken on is not right."
Also defeated was an amendment by House Minority Leader Catherine Hanaway that would have let any Missourian from a county that approved the 1999 ballot question carry a concealed gun anywhere in Missouri.
In counties where the issue originally failed, Hanaway's amendment would have required another local vote for the law to take effect.
Hanaway, R-Warson Woods, had offered the amendment during debate last week and said she received many angry calls about the amendment -- both from supporters and opponents of concealed guns.
Another St. Louis County Republican, Rep. Richard Byrd of Kirkwood, had offered a similar failed amendment and said vandals spray-painted a message about the bill on his vehicle during the weekend.