When Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) initially vetoed an expansive bill that would have nullified federal gun law, weakened state gun enforcement, armed teachers, and gagged journalists, Missouri legislators had enough votes to override the bill. But after stark warnings from the state’s attorney general, police chiefs, and sheriffs that the bill was not only unconstitutional but dangerous, just enough legislators backed down to see the veto override fail Wednesday by one vote in the Missouri Senate.
In a stern letter to lawmakers, Attorney General Kris Koster warned that, while key provisions of the bill would clearly be struck down by a court as a violation of the Constitution’s supremacy clause, other provisions that could withstand a court challenge would be equally dangerous, including prohibitions on cooperation with the federal government, and authorization for lawsuits by citizens against the police.
The Missouri Sheriffs’ Association likewise warned in a unanimous resolution against the bill that it would “serve to hamstring the sheriffs and their deputies from enforcing or participating in all federal, drug, and violent gang task forces currently operating in the state,” and “expose all local law enforcement” to liability for doing their jobs.
Although the legislature failed to override the gun bill and an income tax cut that were among key Republican priorities in the state, they did manage to override vetoes on ten bills — a record number of defeats for the governor, “bolstered by a newly formed coalition of Missouri business groups and a media campaign largely funded by wealthy St. Louis investor Rex Sinquefield,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.