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Millhiser writes: "The biggest problem with the bill, however, is that it almost certainly violates the Missouri Constitution, which provides that '[s]enators and representatives ... shall not be questioned for any speech or debate in either house in any other place.'"

Legislation in Missouri would make proposing to ban this weapon a felony. (photo: AP)
Legislation in Missouri would make proposing to ban this weapon a felony. (photo: AP)


A Felony for Lawmakers to Propose Gun Safety Legislation?

By Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress

19 February 13

 

esterday, Missouri state Rep. Mike Leara (R) proposed legislation making it a felony for lawmakers to so much as propose many bills regulating guns. Leara’s bill provides that "[a]ny member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.

There are many problems with this bill, not the least of which is the fact that the scope of the Second Amendment is very much in flux. Last week, the NRA announced it would launch of blizzard of litigation intended to expand gun rights while the courts are still controlled by very conservative judges. So a lawmaker who introduces legislation that is perfectly constitutional could conceivably find that their bill suddenly violates a new understanding of the Second Amendment after the NRA wins another lawsuit - and thus could suddenly be hit with felony charges.

The biggest problem with the bill, however, is that it almost certainly violates the Missouri Constitution, which provides that "[s]enators and representatives . . . shall not be questioned for any speech or debate in either house in any other place." Although there are very few court decisions interpreting this clause in the Missouri Constitution, the United States Constitution contains a parallel clause guaranteeing that federal lawmakers shall not be called to account for "any Speech or Debate in either House" of Congress, and courts commonly interpret parallel provisions of state and the U.S. Constitution to have similar meanings.

In United States v. Johnson the Supreme Court explained that this "Speech or Debate" clause of the Constitution is intended to prevent the "instigation of criminal charges against critical or disfavored legislators by the executive in a judicial forum" by giving them broad immunity to prosecutions for their official actions. Moreover the clause does not simply protect lawmakers engaged in literal speech or debate, but it also ensures that they will remain unmolested for actions "generally done in a session of the House by one of its members in relation to the business before it." Thus, a lawmaker’s decision to introduce a bill for consideration by the legislature is protected by the Speech and Debate clause, and they cannot be subject to prosecution for this act.

 

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+68 # CAMUS1111 2013-02-19 12:55
Leara's guns ought to immediately be removed from his dangerous hands, either before or after his head is forcibly removed from his ass.
 
 
+10 # moreover 2013-02-19 16:35
...after.
 
 
+11 # flippancy 2013-02-19 19:36
Quoting moreover:
...after.


Nah, leave it up there. Maybe he could commit suicide by farting.
 
 
+10 # Texas Aggie 2013-02-19 20:10
Why? Just leave it where it is. Who knows what damage he could do otherwise?
 
 
+75 # ER444 2013-02-19 13:19
The Republicans and the NRA are grasping for straws. God let the next one be the one that breals thier backs. America rise up against these idiots!!!
 
 
+48 # NOMINAE 2013-02-19 14:56
Quoting ER444:
The Republicans and the NRA are grasping for straws. God let the next one be the one that breals thier backs. America rise up against these idiots!!!


You nailed THAT one ! Passing a law to make passing a law against the law is CERTIFIABLY INSANE !
 
 
+15 # 666 2013-02-19 18:21
so, let's see, the 2nd amendment trumps the 1st amendment because 2 is more than 1? How stoopid can these people get?
 
 
+43 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2013-02-19 15:40
I've lived in Missouri all my life — in a suburban island of relative semi-sanity. But the Republicans in this sate have taken over both houses of the state legislature and essentially changed the state motto to "THE 1800s OR BUST!"

These numbnut crackpots have already cost us a chance at growing a bio-genetic technology region in St. Louis. What future-oriented sophisticated company would want to risk starting a forward-thinkin g business in this intellectually moribund, socially backward, conservative wasteland?

We're also the puppy-mill capital of the USA, thanks in great part to legislative protections passed by rural legislators when they circumvented a public referendum.
 
 
+8 # WestWinds 2013-02-20 07:25
# Reductio Ad Absurdum:
I live in Floriduh. The Conservatives here have managed to make Rick Scott the governor. Before Rick Scott was elected governor of Florida, he was implicated in one of the biggest Medicare fraud cases in history. Scott was CEO of Columbia/HCA when it was fined $1.7 billion and found guilty of swindling the government. Now Scott is in the business of depriving Floridians of federal funds for a railroad line through the state that would have provided jobs, and he has nixed federal funds for any health care at all. Floriduh also lives in the 1800's and is fully provincial, ignorant, thick skulled and wildly proud of it!
 
 
+7 # robniel 2013-02-20 09:40
There is a similar nutcake bible-thumper in the Texas legislature named Steve Toth from the Houston area who knows nothing about the U.S. Constitution and wants to make it illegal for Texas lawmen to enforce federal gun safety or gun control laws. Anyone who voted for this nut should be mortified.
 
 
+15 # reiverpacific 2013-02-19 16:14
Well, consider the source; MISSOURI state Rep' Mike Leara (R),
the state that gave us the intriguing spectacle of John Ashcroft being defeated by a dead guy.
Wonder what these Southern geniuses will come up with next? Another instance of bending the constitution to suit a point of view by the same people who will club you to death or silence you with it if it suits them.
Like free speech, it gets abused by those who would amend it for their own motives or take it away from everybody who disagrees with them.
 
 
+20 # Davethinks 2013-02-19 16:53
I've known people from Missouri; sensible, rational people. How the hell did they let this mentally vacant Leara creep get into their legislature?
 
 
+19 # soularddave 2013-02-19 18:02
Missouri is vastly rural, with the population centers in Kansas City & St. Louis. We call those who think and act like Leara "out-state legislators. They've held Missouri back for years (possibly forever) because they're "low information" voters, and just don't understand how the world works. They control 95% of Missouri Geography.
 
 
+17 # squinty 2013-02-19 16:54
Much as I oppose gun control, I have to agree that Leara is missing the point of the Bill of Rights. It's ridiculous to try and defend the second amendment by throwing the first under the bus, and I would think proposing or discussing legislation would be a form of protected speech.
 
 
+4 # WestWinds 2013-02-20 07:29
#squinty:
After all of the hard work and careful deliberation of the forefathers to frame and give us the Constitution, to watch this NeoCon crowd in action is mind-blowing. I can't help but wonder what Franklin or Jefferson would have to say about the criminally insane that are currently running this country.
 
 
+12 # angelfish 2013-02-19 17:40
If this isn't Proof Positive that the Missouri ReTHUGlican Legislators have ALL become Flaming Anal Termini, I don't know what other inane Legislation they might put forth to prove otherwise. I have no fear that they WILL come up with something.
 
 
+3 # mim 2013-02-19 22:11
Proof positive would be if ALL the Republican legislators supported that bill.
 
 
+18 # BobboMax 2013-02-19 18:23
"The biggest problem with the bill, however, is that it almost certainly violates the Missouri Constitution"

No, I think the biggest problem with the bill is that it's stupid.
 
 
+13 # geraldom 2013-02-19 18:24
What I find to be so ironic and so hilarious is that everyone seems to be so focused on our 2nd amendment rights, that they seem to have their blinders on and remain almost totally unaware of the fact that, at this current time and for all intents and purposes, the 2nd amendment is about the only amendment still left standing in what is laughingly left of our Bill of Rights.

As a result of all of the heinous Bills passed under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, which includes, as a minimum, the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the latest and greatest version of the FISA Bill, and, last but definitely not least, Obama's personal pet project, the NDAA (the National Defense Authorization Act), virtually every other amendment that used to make up our Bill of Rights have, for all intents and purposes, been thrown into the scrap heap.
 
 
+12 # flippancy 2013-02-19 19:40
How is it Obama's personal pet project? It's been around since he was a child. It just gets renewed every year. And with the obstructionist Republicans in Congress if it were his pet project it would never have passed the house and would have been filibustered in the Senate.
 
 
+2 # geraldom 2013-02-19 21:27
Quoting flippancy:
How is it Obama's personal pet project? It's been around since he was a child. It just gets renewed every year. And with the obstructionist Republicans in Congress if it were his pet project it would never have passed the house and would have been filibustered in the Senate.


There are a slew of journalists, including Chris Hedges, who have been suing Obama in federal over the NDAA, specifically Section 201 which allows Obama and any future president of the U.S. to arrest and detain indefinitely in a military prison without any due process, trial or jury, American citizens. Obama lost the case in a lower level court which established this section as being totally unconstitutiona l, but it was Obama himself who appealed that decision to a higher court where it is right now.

Not only does the NDAA allow Obama (via the military) to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely in a military prison without any due process, trial or jury, it also gives him the power, again without any due process, to pick and choose people he feels needs to be assassinated (illegally killed - murdered) including U.S. citizens. He and future presidents can now become judge, jury and executioner all by themselves.

Obama does not reject these added powers, but actually demands them and will, if necessary, take this fight to SCOTUS in order to keep them. It would be very interesting to see how his SCOTUS judges vote on this.
 
 
+1 # geraldom 2013-02-21 06:58
Quoting flippancy:
How is it Obama's personal pet project? It's been around since he was a child. It just gets renewed every year. And with the obstructionist Republicans in Congress if it were his pet project it would never have passed the house and would have been filibustered in the Senate.


With all due respect, I don't know why flippancy is getting such high marks for his response to to my posting here when he appears to be protecting Barack Obama when it comes to the NDAA.

A new article popped up on RSN today, February 21, linking Obama to the current version of the NDAA and you need to check it out. Its URL is:

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/16123-ndaa-pre-emptive-prosecution-coming-to-a-town-near-you

Obama is demanding the right to become judge jury and execution, and he is demanding the right that his military be able to arrest and detain indefinitely without any due process U.S. citizens which violates both our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, rights that will be inherited by all future presidents. Obama will fight for these powers all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if he has to.

Is this what you people want? When are you going to realize that Obama is not all that he seems to be when it comes to his public speeches including his State Of The Union speech. What he says and what he ultimately does rarely ever match.
 
 
+4 # Texas Aggie 2013-02-19 20:18
So very true, as Bill Maher recently pointed out.
 
 
+3 # E-Mon 2013-02-19 20:36
virtually every other amendment that used to make up our Bill of Rights have, for all intents and purposes, been thrown into the scrap heap.

Yes you're right and now they're after the last one. I don't own a gun and in my wildest dreams all guns and bombs and weapons would be banned forever.... Dream on.... But I do know that the moment they take all "our" guns away, what's left of America will be history. It's extremely naive to think it can't happen here. A full fledged fascist police state is right around the corner. But they're sneaky. They won't come and take them right away. They do it all in increments. They're using the horror and heart break of Newtown, etc. as a perfect (manufactured?? ) excuse. They have a lot of people now (understandably ) begging for gun control, but it's a trap. I think part of the original reason for the right to bear arms was for the citizens to be able to protect themselves from a tyrannical government.
 
 
0 # rangerrandy 2013-02-21 05:37
I think part of the original reason for the right to bear arms was for the citizens to be able to protect themselves from a tyrannical government.[/quote

...and you base this interpretation of the 2nd amendment on?.....
 
 
0 # mim 2013-02-19 22:13
They haven't yert quartered soldiers in people's houses.
 
 
+1 # WestWinds 2013-02-20 07:33
#Harold R. Mencher:
Back when Bob Barr had the Constitution Party, he gave testimony before, I think it was Kucinich in the House. Anyway, he showed a copy of the Constitution before the NeoCons got a hold of it, and then a redacted copy of it after the NeoCons got going. The only thing anyone with a lick of sense could/can say is, "OMG".
 
 
+4 # jwb110 2013-02-19 18:46
welcome to the "Show Me" State......
 
 
-42 # MidwestTom 2013-02-19 18:47
So far all mass shootings have been done by liberals and children of liberal. Maybe only conservatives should have guns.
 
 
+22 # flippancy 2013-02-19 19:34
Quoting MidwestTom:
So far all mass shootings have been done by liberals and children of liberal. Maybe only conservatives should have guns.



Are you insane or just dumb? The exact opposite is the case.
 
 
+1 # robniel 2013-02-20 12:33
Are you insane or just dumb?
[quote name="flippancy

These conservative attributes are not mutually exclusive.
 
 
+18 # Art947 2013-02-19 19:35
Quoting MidwestTom:
So far all mass shootings have been done by liberals and children of liberal. Maybe only conservatives should have guns.

Are you suggesting that Lanza's mother was a liberal? The Columbine "twins" and their parents were liberals? The VaTech shooter's parents were liberal?... Please provide some evidence to support your hypothesis.

However, if you mean that if all conservatives had guns then they could shoot themselves and end the problem, then maybe you are correct.
 
 
+10 # fliteshare 2013-02-19 19:46
1776 wasn't started by conservatives but by radicals.
 
 
+1 # flippancy 2013-02-20 19:10
Quoting fliteshare:
1776 wasn't started by conservatives but by radicals.


In fact, the conservatives overwhelmingly supported King George, not the colonies.
 
 
+11 # mebemo 2013-02-19 19:59
Quoting MidwestTom:
So far all mass shootings have been done by liberals and children of liberal. Maybe only conservatives should have guns.


MAYBE YOU SHOULD STOP DIVIDING YOUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS INTO CATEGORIES WITH LABELS AND START THINKING OF US ALL AS HUMAN. (all caps on purpose) "Love one another."
 
 
+14 # Texas Aggie 2013-02-19 20:16
Right. This dork in CT who shot his mom, a survivalist, is the son of liberals. The kid who shot his parents was the son of a right wing preacher, obviously another liberal. The guy who went on a rampage in Orange county was obviously another liberal. And so was the guy in Mississippi who dragged that kid into his bunker must have been a liberal because only liberals live in MS and have bunkers.

I assume that your post was pure snark because no one with a modicum of curiosity about current events would say something so silly.
 
 
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-02-19 19:06
& as for Freedom of Speech, might that not be just a teeny-tiny little bit involved here too?
 
 
+10 # flippancy 2013-02-19 19:33
In the 30s the SCOTUS ruled that the National Guard is the only well regulated militia, so the second amendment does NOT give anyone else, even the police maybe, the right to have a gun.

I have one and I don't want to take yours away, but there must be reasonable and rational laws regardibng them.

Perhaps a good start would be rescinding the NRA's tax exemption since they can no longer claim they are working in the public interest. Their job now is to shill for and get a cut of every gun manufacturer's sales.

Another would be jailing anyone who tries to make the laws laxer, but it would run into the exact same constitutional barrier ar the moron's law would.
 
 
+6 # spenel334 2013-02-19 19:47
spenel334
Wouldn't that be just the thing: the same people who support Citizen's United, create a bill outlawing legislators' right to legislate. Hmmm, our intelligentsia at work!
 
 
+4 # Selwick 2013-02-19 19:49
Doesn't Missouri also rank # 50 in educational achievements and standards in the nation?
Do I need to say more?
 
 
+2 # Art947 2013-02-20 00:52
Quoting Selwick:
Doesn't Missouri also rank # 50 in educational achievements and standards in the nation?
Do I need to say more?


Sorry, however I think that the distinction(?) of being at the bottom of the rankings belongs to that other bastion of intelligence - Mississippi!
 
 
+1 # flippancy 2013-02-20 19:12
Quoting Selwick:
Doesn't Missouri also rank # 50 in educational achievements and standards in the nation?
Do I need to say more?


No, Mississippi does and Texas is # 48 or 49 from year to year.
 
 
+3 # Texas Aggie 2013-02-19 20:24
I suspect that this politico is just trying to get a name for himself. He claims that he wants to initiate a debate, but it seems that his actions are more targeted to distracting from the debate. That may be his actual motive. He isn't just trying to shut down debate by outlawing it the way it seems.

He's trying to get people talking about his stupidity rather than how to deal with people whose love affair with their weapons rivals that with actual living beings. These people with the perverted love for inanimate objects are otherwise known as gun nuts. If you think I exaggerate, look at the reaction that you get when you take their toy away. It perfectly mimics what happens when you take away someone's spouse or parent or dog.
 
 
+10 # pstamler 2013-02-19 21:55
Actually, as a Missourian who voted for the dead guy over Ashcroft, I'm seriously proud of my state. The dead guy was preferable.

(Actually, we voted for the dead guy because the governor had indicated that, if the dead guy, Mel Carnahan, won, he'd appoint Carnahan's widow to the Senate seat. She's a good and decent person.)

And the reason idiots like Leara get elected to the legislature is the same reason idiots like Todd Akin get elected to Congress. In one word: gerrymandering.
 
 
+2 # Hot Doggie 2013-02-19 21:58
OK, so where does prosecution for treason come in. Is this "speech and debate" clause mean that legislatures can't be impeached? Is the charge of impeachment nullified by this clause? Perhaps Leara should change his bill to making those who attempt to pass anti-gun laws a treasonous and an impeachable offense.

In that same Article 1, Section 6 it states, "They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendence at the Session..." Well where do those felony charges originate? Someone has to make a law that says this and that are felony charges against this government official.
 
 
+1 # kalpal 2013-02-20 03:57
Impeachment is followed by a trial of one's peers in the legislature. You may recall that the GOP impeached Clinton but were misreable failures at convicting him. Of course the GOP are miserable failures at 99% of what they undertake.
 
 
0 # flippancy 2013-02-20 19:14
EQuoting kalpal:
Impeachment is followed by a trial of one's peers in the legislature. You may recall that the GOP impeached Clinton but were misreable failures at convicting him. Of course the GOP are miserable failures at 99% of what they undertake.


Except for destroying the economy and obstructing every measure to help the country.
 
 
0 # kalpal 2013-02-20 03:58
BTW that clause covers actions taken within the legislature.
 
 
+2 # kalpal 2013-02-20 03:55
One of the most curious notions in the annals of American legislatures is that no education is ever provided to the newly elected teaching them what is the law and what is mere wistful drivel.
 
 
+1 # Hot Doggie 2013-02-20 10:01
kalpal said,"BTW that clause covers actions taken within the legislature." That's right, however, doesn't the constitution give us the ability to try the gov't for acts against the people? And what, exactly, is that person who is going to bring charges against the gov't going to present as the specific law that was broken? And who was it that made that law? And is that the only law that can be made to define a felony by the gov't? Can other laws be enacted to define anti-constituti onal attacks, i.e., laws, being made against the people? Don't We The People have the duty to throw off laws that are repugnent to the constitution? And even to make laws which augment existing constitutional laws which protect our constitution from attacks?

I think it's time to punish those congressmen who do not understand the constitution and thereby show contempt for it by way of attempting to enact laws contrary to our constitution.

I think that United States v. Johnson court case does NOT apply here.
 
 
-1 # JetpackAngel 2013-02-20 20:39
So it seems to me we're between a rock and a hard place:

I shudder to think of all the senseless murders that come every day from average citizens with guns; it legitimately scares the crap out of me. I also see our Bill of Rights being pushed through the shredder, bit by bit (which also scares the crap out of me) and it would probably go to hell in a hand-basket a lot faster if all those average citizens didn't have so many weapons.

Which is the lesser of two evils?
 
 
-1 # MidwestDick 2013-02-22 18:33
Apparently, it has not completely scared the crap out of you, since you seem to have had plenty left for this post.
The idea that gun collectors are the last barrier against an intrusive government is 180 degrees wrong.
In fact gun collectors are the advance guard of an intrusive government.
A great many are retired military and Police. They are a product of the very institutions tasked with relieving us of our rights.
 

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