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House Holds Public Hearing on New Gun Bills

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A House committee voted 7-5 on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 to back a proposal to eliminate sales tax exemptions on newspaper equipment. The savings would be used to help funding for the blind.

The House General Laws Committee held public hearings Tuesday night on two bills related to guns after already hearing at least ten gun bills this session.

One bill would allow a gun owner with a concealed carry permit to bring their firearm into a place of worship.

Currently, the law allows guns if given permission by the minister or whoever is in charge.

The bill originally provided two possibilities for a house of worship. It could post a sign explicitly barring guns, or it could allow regular conceal and carry permit practices.

However, Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, the bill’s sponsor, added an amendment allowing them to also designate who could carry firearms into the building, saying churches contacted him and requested this change.

“Got quite a few phone calls, quite a few emails and a lot of them from churches that said you know we kind of like being able to see and know who is carrying, and we like to give that permission,” Miller said.

The other bill, entitled the “Safe Schools Act” creates policies concerning firearms in schools. It makes schools with a firearm on site post signage that says it they prepared to react to a threat with a deadly force. It also makes school districts send a written note to guardians if it does not arm an authorized employee.

Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, the bill’s sponsor, says the bill is ultimately about the safety of children in schools.

“I’m a parent, I’ve got an eight-year-old and a nine-year-old, and I absolutely want our schools to take advantage of the option, to do everything they that they can to protect our students,” Ross said.

Another part of the legislation requires schools hiring a potential employee to contact their previous employer to see if any violations of school regulations did or did not occur.

This aspect of the bill received opposition from the Missouri National Education Association.

“We want to make sure that the due process rights of any person, in particular education employees, are respected.” Otto Fajen, Legislative Director of the MNEA, said.

The committee also passed a bill that bans the selling or possession of firearms to those convicted of domestic violence.

Sarah Kellogg is a first year graduate student at the University of Missouri studying public affairs reporting. She spent her undergraduate days as a radio/television major and reported for KBIA. In addition to reporting shifts, Sarah also hosted KBIA’s weekly education show Exam, was an afternoon newscaster and worked on the True/False podcast. Growing up, Sarah listened to episodes of Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! with her parents during long car rides. It’s safe to say she was destined to end up in public radio.