Given my job and RF’s new home base in Austin, I have reason to travel to Texas from time to time. You know, Texas – that nirvana of gun rights where every cow poke totes a six shooter and guns are ingrained in the culture like nowhere else? Yeah, well that’s mostly a load of horse hockey. Texas’s gun laws have a long way to go before they approach the freedoms firearms owners in a lot of other states enjoy. Places like…Missouri, for instance. Yes, the gun laws in my home state make Texas looks like, well, Maryland by comparison . . .

Well almost. It’s not constitutional carry, but Missouri has concealed carry almost everywhere and a statewide preemption law that covers everything except open carry (and that may change soon, too.) None of those ludicrous 30.06 or 51% signs that can turn almost any business into an instant felony zone. Still, that doesn’t mean we don’t have our share of politicians up here who’d love to be able to treat the Bill of Rights like a cafeteria line.

Take, for instance, state representative Joshua Peters. He’s a St. Louis Democrat (it’s a one-party town) who represents Missouri’s 76th district on the city’s north side. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, that’s one of the most dangerous, crime-ridden districts in the state. And the reason for all of those crimes? Guns, of course! At least, that how Rep. Peters sees it.

But don’t worry northsiders, because Rep. Peters has a plan. Along with four other state reps who are apparently similarly ignorant of current Second Amendment jurisprudence, Peters has introduced HB2129 for the General Assembly’s consideration. How will the bill curb the north side’s age-old crime problem? Simple:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:

Section A. Chapter 571, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 571.520, to read as follows:

571.520. 1. This section shall be known and may be cited as the “Protecting the Second Amendment Act”.

2. No person residing in a city not within a county shall own, possess, manufacture, transport, repair, or sell:

(1) A shotgun;
(2) A short-barreled or sawed-off rifle;
(3) An automatic handgun; or
(4) A flamethrower. For purposes of this section, the term “flamethrower” shall mean a mechanical incendiary device designed to project a long controllable stream of fire.

3. The metropolitan police department of a city not within a county shall develop and institute a surrender process whereby the firearms prohibited in subsection 2 of this section may be surrendered to the metropolitan police department. The metropolitan police department of a city not within a county shall relinquish all firearms surrendered under this subsection to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

4. Any person violating the provisions of subsection 2 of this section shall be guilty of a class A felony.

That’s the entire text of the bill. For those of you from normal jurisdictions, because of a quirk dating back to the Civil War, St. Louis is the only city in the state that’s not part of a county. Therefore, HB2129 would only apply there.

Boiled down to its unconstitutional essence then, Peters and his pals would outlaw shotguns, SBRs and all those automatic handguns (not to mention flamethrowers) in the city of St. Louis. But wait…here’s the best part: they’ve gone full-Orwell and are calling their little opus the Protecting the Second Amendment Act. Double-plus good, no?

No, actually. The bill is DOA for a number of reasons. Set aside for now all of the Heller considerations (i.e. weapons in common use for lawful purposes). We can pour SCOTUS-drafted cold water all over Peters’ Protecting the Second Amendment Act, making angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin arguments about out how commonly shotguns are used for home defense ’til the cows come home. But we won’t really have to, and here’s why.

The state of Missouri has a very robust exemption statute already in place. Here’s the relevant part:

No county, city, town, village, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state shall adopt any order, ordinance or regulation concerning in any way the sale, purchase, purchase delay, transfer, ownership, use, keeping, possession, bearing, transportation, licensing, permit, registration, taxation other than sales and compensating use taxes or other controls on firearms, components, ammunition, and supplies except as provided in subsection 3 of this section.

That should give you an idea of the state’s attitude toward the right to keep and bear arms. So while a law like the Protecting the Second Amendment act could theoretically be enacted at the state level, it won’t be. Missouri’s legislature is controlled by strong pro-gun majorities in both houses. So why bother with something as futile as HB2129?

I called the Representative’s office last week and spoke to his legislative assistant, Philip Hogan. There seems to be some kind of communication break-down in Rep. Peters’ office, though, because Mr. Hogan told me he hadn’t heard of HB2129. Then again, maybe there’s a deeper personnel problem in Peters’ operation, because Hogan also told me he was unaware of the state’s preemption law. I left a message for the Representative to call me, but haven’t heard from him. Given the caliber of people working for him, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s entirely possible he never got the message.

But that leaves a couple of unanswered questions. Was Rep. Peters somehow unaware of the pro-2A stance of the legislature? If his bill were – by some miracle – enacted, is he aware that it’s clearly in violation of the Supreme Court’s Heller v District of Columbia decision?

By all accounts, Rep. Peters is no dummy. The telegenic, clean-cut legislative greenhorn has a stellar resume (if getting elected is your goal):

In his freshman year in Lincoln University, Joshua served as Vice President of the  Freshman class. This office granted him a position as a Student Government Association Senator.  He says he receives satisfaction from listening to constituent concerns and drafting, presenting, and supporting legislation to address them. In his senior year, Joshua served as the 75th President of the Student Government Association (SGA), representing over 4,500 students and managing a budget of $1,000.000.00. Prior to serving as President, Mr. Peters held the position of Vice President of the Student Government Association as well Cheif Justice of the Student Suprme Court.

He is the very model of the modern public servant. Sure, he’s young and a little wet behind the ears, but he’s learned the – ahem – art of machine politics working for the second generation of the public-service-job-for-life Clay family. So as long as he continues to play his cards right, he’ll retire from public office forty or fifty years down the road with a fat taxpayer-financed pension, if that’s what he wants to do.

Which could only mean one thing: it’s all just naked political grandstanding for the folks back home. A convenient, camera-ready talking point he can pull out of his back pocket the next time there’s a Saturday night multiple shooting in his district and one of the local TV stations knocks on his door looking for a reaction. He’ll summon his most serious I’m-deeply-concerned media face, and do his best to capture the fierce urgency of now by spouting something like, “Katie, I’m as horrified by the level of gun violence in my district as any of my constituents. In fact, I sponsored legislation in the Assembly that would have outlawed the very kinds of firearms that were used in this heinous crime tonight. But given the power of the gun lobby in this state, I couldn’t even get my bill a hearing.”

Maybe Rep. Peters should hire me.

[h/t Dirk Diggler, Esquire]

78 Responses to Anti-Gun Grandstanding Politico of the Day: MO Rep. Joshua Peters

  1. There should be a rule that any bill with a title that directly contradicts its intents is immediately scrapped. I remember writing essays in college and I learned early on that a strong title goes a long way. Therefore I can only assume that these political hacks (they are hacks, not public servants, since they are self serving) know exactly what they want to convey through Orwellian double speak.

    • Exactly. This is nothing more than a chance for democrats to later say “Well, I would have supported the Protecting the 2nd Amendment Act” or “I voted for the Protecting the 2nd Amendment Act.”

    • Take the name of just about any act of congress assholes and the exact opposite is what it actually accomplishes.

    • And shotguns. Those $15000, 28″, over-under, trap/skeet guns are notorious gang-banger drive-by guns.

      And SBRs. Which are already illegal on a federal level, unless registered as an NFA item with the ATF. I think I can count on one hand how many times a stamped SBR has been used in a crime, and still have enough digits left to count the members of the Jackson Five.

      The extra stupid part is this:
      It’s a state law, but it’s based on residence, not location. So if you live in the ‘burbs, you can take your SBR, machine pistol, and shotgun collection into St. Louis all you want. But if you live in St. Louis and you go to a gun range outside the city limits, but still in MO, and pick up a shotgun, you’re now a felon.

    • It’s arbitrary because they don’t define whether they’re referring to full auto or semi auto…they simply state “automatic”. Most people today assume automatic refers to a machine gun (full auto), but legally speaking it’s not defined. Traditionally, an automatic loading firearm was any firearm that would load the next round automatically; not necessarily a firearm that fired more than one bullet when the trigger was pressed.

      http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/09/jeremy-s/obscure-object-desire-borchardt-c93-first-modern-semi-automatic-pistol/

      “So by the mid-late 1880s, the powder had advanced far enough that an “automatic” pistol could be made, at least in theory. Automatic, meaning that it could fire the bullet, extract the spent shell and load the next round.”

      I honestly think the verbiage the author used had the intention of banning any pistol other than a revolver. How that would have played out in court is anyone’s guess.

  2. Unconstitutionality aside, this is laughably stupid because it specifically says that “No person *residing* in a city not within a county shall…” which means that anyone who resides elsewhere could waltz right in armed to the teeth and everything would be hunky dory. What a joke.

  3. Of course. Drafting a short bill is so much easier than, for instance, fixing the horrendous inner city schools to help them break the cycle crime and poverty. Bonus: you don’t run afoul of teachers’ unions by drafting gun control bills. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

  4. This illustrates just how little anti-gun politicians know about firearms. This bill would outlaw a single shot shotgun, but not an AR-15.

  5. I’ve already commented on this in the forum. As a life long St. Louisan who grew up in deepest North City, this needs no explanation. The small minority of people who actually vote in his district are, for the most part, older members of the neighborhood churches (mostly elderly baptists). All bills like this are expected to do is let these folks know “he’s on their side”. There is absolutely no expectation of passage, just a cynical ploy to hang on to his base. Actually, that describes most politics in St. Louis. On the whole, though, this is a gun friendly town. You just have to remember that the actual CITY of St. Louis is only a small part of the metro area.

    • There is absolutely no expectation of passage, just a cynical ploy to hang on to his base.

      Exactly so. No different than when we occasionally see Republicans drafting bills to outlaw all abortions. Even if by some miracle they were to pass, they’d be ruled unconstitutional in a heartbeat…but it keeps the social conservative wing of the party happy.

        • Ill conceived? Or maybe just over your head? Your choice, but at this moment, I kinda know where my money would go.

        • What was ill-conceived, JR’s point or the beating heart that gets aborted?

          JR first noted that I’d mentioned the phrase “in a heartbeat” in post that mentioned abortion in an analogy. My response was to double down by using “life” and “ill-conceived” in the same sentence. Rather than making an attempt at a serious discussion about abortion, I was instead simply engaging in wordplay, given that I generally don’t care about abortion enough to engage in a serious conversation about it.

          (and after all, this website isn’t The Truth About Abortions!)

        • “Woosh….

          (speaking of things going over one’s head!)”

          🙂 🙂 😉

          You did get me with that one..,.

          {JR doffs hat in the game of words} Next box of .22 LR is on me. 😉

          (And, I did finally catch up before reading your post to Another Robert, so at least there’s that…)

        • Next box of .22 LR is on me.

          Speaking of words, I’m now at a loss for them in the face of such generosity!

    • Why not introduce a bill that declares his district a “Crime Free Zone”? You know, making it illegal to commit a crime in his district. Oh wait, a crime (like, say, murder) is already illegal, isn’t it?

      Can you say “pandering to the base”, boys and girls?

  6. There should be a policy where anyone introducing legislation as idiotic as this should be subject to public humiliation.

    Like have to sit in front of city hall wearing a dunce cap every day for a week.

    • There are a few of retards in the House (not hyperbole; genuine sub-70 IQs by what they say and how they think on their feet in sessions televised by CSPAN) that would look good in dunce caps. You would have to make the caps pretty small to keep them from sliding down, though.

      • Can i get a Sheila Jackson Lee from the congregation!

        How that woman keeps getting reelected is a mystery to me. Recently, she said the US Constitution is 400 years old…

  7. Texas has more alphabet agencies running around with badges than DC for crying out loud. You cant throw a rock without hitting a cop. I was sweated by Austin PD so I speak from experience. My “rights” meant nothing while they worried about a drug dealer who was lying there in a pile after trying to carjack me. They even called the tire iron in my back seat a “deadly weapon” and said I could be charged for “taking it too far” after stomping the scumbag in a parking lot. Texas is way overrated.

    • It’s become very fashionable lately to rundown Texas’ firearms freedoms reputation. I’m sorry if you bought into 1950’s and 60’s T.V. westerns and assumed that’s how it is today. That was mythology then, as now. However, this counter myth that Texas is a firearms freedom middling is nearly as far off base.

      First, let’s set aside all of the most grotesque 2A infringements as not even worthy of discussion. If your state has mag limits, purchase frequency/quantity limits, registration, ownership permits, or bans MSR’s, private transfers, Class 3’s, or is “may issue”, then the discussion is over. That’s a slave state. Neither Texas nor Missouri falls into that category. So comparing Texas to Maryland, even in rhetorical flourish, is just silly talk.

      Next, we distinguish between the law and the culture. Focusing exclusively on the law and comparing check boxes between two states misses a whole lot of the picture. There’s paper and there’s real life. Lots of places with so-called open carry, like MO, will still hassle you for carrying openly. That’s paper law and you don’t get full credit for that. Other places, like Texas, have a law against displaying a concealed handgun. Ok, but in real life, nobody’s getting busted for an innocent mistake like displaying as you reach up to the top shelf at the grocery store.

      Our friends in Missouri cannot carry into churches or hospitals, without permission. That’s opt-in and no one’s giving you that permission. Meanwhile, in Texas, these places can bar you from carrying, but they have to post an official sign first. That’s opt-out and very few places post such signs. Dan complains about 51% signs, which means you cannot carry in a bar. Guess what? You can’t in MO, either (without specific owner permission, which you aren’t getting. In fact, only about half a dozen states allow bar carry, so that’s hardly a basis go slam Texas.

      What else? MO’s license class is 8 hrs, ours is 4-6 and zero for renewal. Our licenses are issued by the state police and it’s by the book: eligible, you get it, not, you don’t. In MO, they’re issued by the local sheriff. Hope you get a good one!

      Then there are the quality of life factors. How many gun stores, gun ranges and gun shows are there? St. Louis seems to have a decent number of ranges, but they appear to require expensive memberships. Walk-in’s may be welcome at some, bug the fees run $17-18+ per hour, per person. You can find rates of $10 in the Houston area and no expensive membership required.

      So there are some differences, but let’s not fall for the myth and follow the trend of uninformed dissing of fellow firearms freedom states. Save that scorn for the slave states.

      • You cuties in TX can’t toot your horns and fire your six-shooters into the air getting all hot and bothered about how badass your state is on the regular and NOT expect the rest of the country to roll their eyes.

        Respectively, don’t get buttsore when somebody points out that while everything “IS bigger in Texas,” that includes *ssholes and bureaucracy. Texas isn’t exactly the pinnacle of liberty, bud. There are DEFINITELY worse places, but as the saying goes: “Don’t piss on my leg…”

        • He specifically addresses the differences and similarities of the states in question using facts and that is all you can come up with? Yeah, that hurt a lot…

  8. Interesting point on TX gun laws Dan. I recently brought a sidearm to TX on business for the first time. I was shocked to see the 30.06 and 51% signs left and right. I’m not used to having such restrictions on where I can carry, so this took a bit of an adjustment.

    • The same here in New Mexico; except for government buildings, libraries, schools and bars; there is almost no private businesses that are posted as a GFZ.

      It’s great; I can OC pretty much everywhere and not be hassled by taking my gun off my belt during the day.

  9. “Protecting the Second Amendment Act”.

    Let us pray.

    “Oh Lord, with Thy help we will defend ourselves from our enemies. But preserve us, we beseech Thee, from the cruel hands of our benefactors.”

  10. I’m gonna give this guy a call. As a resident of the St. Louis area this makes me sick. Not only that he’s ignorant of current legislation or willfully ignorant at worst, but also that he would so callous as to waste my tax dollars drafting legislation that he knows would never even pass.

    Let me be clear, he’s paid using my money. By the people, for the people. This obviously isn’t what the people of the state of Missouri want and he knows it. He’s taking my money to create a political talking point to further HIS political agenda down the road. If that isn’t theft I don’t know what is; he should be fired.

  11. OK, where to begin? Well, let’s begin with what he got right–oddly enough, one of the things Dan says he got wrong: the “pre-emption statute”. That statute says, in effect that no political subdivision below state level can make ordinances regulating guns, with a couple of exceptions. Since what the State Representative is proposing is, in fact, a STATE law, to be enacted by the STATE government, it does not at all run afoul of the “pre-emption” statute, even though by its terms it only applies to one city as a practical matter. That kind of thing is done all the time by the US congress, which only has authority to pass laws for the nation as a whole; laws are written with such detail that they wind up only applying to a specific state, county, district, city, or even smaller subdivision (generally the author’s home town, district, grandmother’s house, etc). Now, for the things he got wrong– Let’s see, no definition of “short-barreled rifle (non-enforceable for vagueness, allows for those terrible “assault rifles”; ban ALL shotguns? (definite non-starter, even Obama purports to use a shotgun for “sporting purposes”); the aforementioned “automatic handguns”, and in similar vein–flamethrowers???? how big of a problem are flamethrowers in St Lou? Clearly, Dan’s conclusion is valid, this surely is nothing but political kabuki at its naked worst.

  12. Obviously, the bill sucks, from its disingenuous title to the confiscatory content. But I’m not sure I see where state preemption kicks in. The preemption statute quoted says that political subdivisions (counties, municipalities, school districts, etc.) can’t pass restrictive gun laws – that’s the state’s job. But why can’t the state itself legislate? There’s nothing in the passage quoted that says the State of Missouri can’t pass this and foist it off on a local political subdivision.

    • the point of pre-emption reference is to show how gun friendly the state is. Better yet, let me help you, other than a city bus or the train (Metro), the “no gun” signs mean absolutely NOTHING!!! That’s right, you can carry any and everywhere in the Show Me State. This is why the bill is stupid. As further background, there is a long standing dispute about getting the city admitted back into the county. There are a number of issues surrounding this (including pensions, taxes, police control, etc), but one argument could be that this is an attempt to push for such admission or it would disenfranchise the poor/minorities of the city. Actually, if it were me, I would let the bill go forward so everyone in the city recognizes how stupid their reps are, how illegal their guns are now, and better yet, how much $$$ is gonna be wasted in the eventual litigation the city (not the state) has to pay to defend this crap in court.

    • The confiscatory component of this bill deserves extra attention. Unlike other state level gun bans that allow grandfathering/registration of existing firearms, this one does not. It’s simply outright confiscation. You surrender your firearms to the SLMPD and they surrender them to the FBI (why the FBI and not the ATF is beyond me…I assume ignorance on the part of the authors).

      Also, it does not appear to exempt the police.

      Lastly, the punishment is a CLASS A FELONY. In MO that’s a min of 10 yrs and a max of 30yrs (or life) in prison.

  13. I don’t agree with the pre-emption argument. A local municpality or a subdivions of the state isn’t trying to institute this legislation. It would be the state that is applying the legislation to the city, so as much as I hate this legislation, I don’t think the pre-emption argument works.

        • as stated above:

          the point of pre-emption reference is to show how gun friendly the state is. Better yet, let me help you, other than a city bus or the train (Metro), the “no gun” signs mean absolutely NOTHING!!! That’s right, you can carry any and everywhere in the Show Me State. This is why the bill is stupid. As further background, there is a long standing dispute about getting the city admitted back into the county. There are a number of issues surrounding this (including pensions, taxes, police control, etc), but one argument could be that this is an attempt to push for such admission or it would disenfranchise the poor/minorities of the city. Actually, if it were me, I would let the bill go forward so everyone in the city recognizes how stupid their reps are, how illegal their guns are now, and better yet, how much $$$ is gonna be wasted in the eventual litigation the city (not the state) has to pay to defend this crap in court.

  14. Randy Dunn – my local Democratically Elected Representative for Life, recently sponsored HB1949 in the MO state legislature, which would have created a duty to retreat during a home invasion. Unfortunately, both KC and St Louis are firmly in the grip of Democrat machines. Fortunately, the rest of the state isn’t, so this stuff just dies in committee.

    • “Randy Dunn – my local Democratically Elected Representative for Life Posterity”, or DERP………..
      FIFY

  15. “This section shall be known and may be cited as the “Protecting the Second Amendment Act”.

    They think we really are that stupid. Save for Jim Crow laws, I have never read any more infuriating pieces of legislation as those pushed by the Dems in their “support” of the RKBA.

    • If Congress ever passes the “Being Nice to Grannies and Fuzzy Puppies Act”, I’m fleeing the country before the President can sign it.

  16. I showed the above legislation attempt to my 11 year old. Let’s just say he was late for school because he couldn’t stop laughing.
    Dare I say Mr. Peter’s is simply a useful idiot. Yeppers I said it. Mr. Peter’s can get over it I am sure.

  17. So this bill would effectively ban shotguns because I doubt anyone else has a Class III to be able to own most of the rest.

    And flamethrowers? Seriously? Are they that common that he feels they need to be banned?

  18. No shotguns? Boo. No SBRs? Well that sucks. No automatic handguns? Um, OK, that may rustle the feathers of the almost-nobody that owns an automatic handgun in the first place.

    The antis show another example of the fact that they don’t even bother to do their homework. Pro2As like us may squabble over the difference between clips and magazines but when you’re trying to make something into the rule of law semantics really make all the difference in the world. Well, I’m glad they are ignorant, but it’s sad no one who blindly supports them can see them for what they are. Then again, the only support they can get is blind to justice in the first place.

  19. I guess people would get to keep their tanks and rocket launchers, as his stupid bill doesn’t mention those.

    Idiot.

  20. Now if we could just get this guy together with the “ghost gun, 30 clip magazine” guy, I bet they could really come up with some outstanding legislation!

  21. In that picture he seems to be waiting for something. Like maybe the media to descend on his closet-sized offices? Forget it!

    Seriously, that “Bill” looks like something he drafted as a college freshman, not a potential law. Come on, kid…

    • having been to the Missouri Capitol on more than one occasion and visited the offices of representatives with far more tenure, that is not his office. . . . . their offices are closets. That must be the minority (read democrat) leader’s space and he is waiting for the popcorn to finish popping

  22. I have a novel idea……Why doesn’t he clean up his welfare ridden, crack pipe smoking, low IQ and non english speaking ( even though they were born here ) “Hood” by arresting the drug dealing gangbanging thugs who live there? I am so tired of PC. We know who is killing who. Deal with them and leave the rest of us alone.

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