This story may appear to be some kind of parody, making the Republican protagonist out to be a foolish caricature who couldn’t exist in reality, but as best as I can tell, this is real.
A Missouri state lawmaker wants to make it a crime to propose any gun control legislation. Mike Leara, a Republican who represents suburban St. Louis, introduced a bill making it a class D felony for any member of the Missouri legislator to introduced a bill to that effect.
“Any 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,” the bills reads.
You read that right. Under Leara’s proposal, it would be a crime to introduce a legislative proposal on gun control. Members of Missouri’s legislature would run the risk of being arrested and being charged as a felon simply for proposing restrictions on firearms.
Leara added he has “no illusions” about his measure becoming law, but he unveiled his plan anyway “as a statement in defense of the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians.”
Now, this is probably about the time I’m supposed to mention that restrictions on civilians owning weapons are not unconstitutional, and even Supreme Court justices like Antonin Scalia have endorsed “longstanding prohibitions” on firearm ownership from felons and the mentally ill, guns in government buildings, limits on the commercial sale of guns, and bans on “dangerous and unusual weapons,” including “M-16 rifles and the like.”
But let’s put that aside and consider a different question: why would someone like Mike Leara fear a debate?
Missouri’s state House has a Republican majority and its state Senate has a Republican majority. The likelihood that the General Assembly is going to approve sweeping new gun-control laws that violate the Second Amendment is, to put it mildly, remote.
But even if the state legislature were dominated by clones of Michael Bloomberg, Dianne Feinstein, and Frank Lautenberg, it still wouldn’t explain why it should be a crime to introduce a bill on guns. After all, what would happen? Presumably there would be committee hearings; policymakers would study the bill’s efficacy and legality; and there would be a spirited debate.
Maybe the gun-control bill would be awful, maybe it’d be great. Perhaps lawmakers would look at the gun-control and think it has merit, perhaps they’d conclude the opposite. But to try to make it a crime to even suggest changes to gun laws makes it seem as if Leara is worried about having a debate in the first place. Having state lawmakers discuss limits on firearms is so alarming, the mere possibility should be prevented – indeed, in this case, it should be deemed felonious – as if fealty towards the Second Amendment requires us to ignore the First.
Why would anyone be afraid of a debate?