Last week, the Missouri House gave final approval to a bill that would end state and local enforcement of a wide range of federal gun control measures; past, present and future, sending the legislation to the governor. The passage of the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” (SAPA) was the culmination of eight years of hard work by Missouri grassroots activists. Their hard work is a lesson in persistence, and a blueprint to follow in other states – and on other issues.
Rep. Jered Taylor filed House Bill 85 (HB85) last December. Rep. Bishop Davidson and Sen. Eric Burlison sponsored and carried companion bills. If signed by Gov. Mike Parsons, the legislation would ban any entity or person, including any public officer or employee of the state and its political subdivisions, from enforcing any past, present or future federal “acts, laws, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances” that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.
No one has done more to fight for the Second Amendment in Missouri than Ron Calzone and his organization Missouri First. He is a true hero of liberty.
The Tenth Amendment Center has worked with Ron on this bill since the first attempt in 2013 by Rep. Doug Funderburk and Sen. Brian Nieves. It was a pure grassroots effort.
Then-Governor Jay Nixon vetoed that early incarnation of the Second Amendment Preservation Act. Ultimately, the House overrode the veto but it failed in the Senate by one vote. In subsequent years, similar bills ran into insurmountable hurdles including intense law enforcement opposition and Republican leadership too squeamish to take a stand against the feds. The NRA lobbied against it and Nieves was all over them, possibly even tearing up his membership card on the Senate floor in a passionate speech.
But you can’t give up after one try facing off against the largest government in history – and its vassal state governments. So SAPA was back again in 2014. And the mainstream opposition got even more aggressive – like this garbage piece from MSNBC.
That 2014 bill died in the legislature, but year after year, the grassroots kept pushing – we wrote articles, provided legislative advice. They sent emails, attended hearings, visited offices. In the early days, it was mostly Ron leading the efforts on the ground by himself, tirelessly pushing and pushing.
So, where were the big gun groups?
Outside of Gun Owners of America (GOA), the major gun lobby organizations almost always totally ignored these efforts, or like NRA, worked hard to kill them.
But, as Jefferson advised, “the ground of liberty is to be gained by inches…”
Over the years, we pushed the grassroots and legislators to switch to an anti-commandeering strategy that we use here, banning enforcement of federal gun control as the big first step forward. Attorney and Missouri liberty activist Dave Roland was absolutely essential in that effort.
The bill language improved greatly over the years, but still faced an uphill battle in the legislature with excuses and parliamentary tricks from Republicans – and the bill kept getting killed. But as John Dickinson told us “small things grow great by concord.”
And each small step brought more people to the effort, building pressure to get the job done.
Sadly, during the Trump years, most Republicans told us this kind of bill “wasn’t necessary,” despite the fact that the Trump administration ramped up enforcement of federal gun control three straight years and implemented new gun control in the form of his bump stock ban.
But Ron and a growing grassroots coalition kept pushing.
Over the years, SAPA sponsors in the legislature changed. But for the last few years, Burlison and Taylor stepped up and kept pushing. Their understanding of the history and the talking points behind the Second Amendment and the anti-commandeering doctrine have really gotten top-notch.
As more grassroots organizations got on board and helped lobby the legislature, pressure even the establishment – like Missouri Firearms Coalition and the small but persistent Truth Money and Freedom Podcast – they created a climate where even the bad guys had to pretend to support SAPA.
Even so, HB85 still faced a tough battle. There was fear it could die in a Senate committee. The bill ended up referred to the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee chaired by Sen. Lincoln Hough. He was reportedly the senator most responsible for stalling SAPA in 2020. But with an outpouring of grassroots support, Hough moved the bill through his committee to the Senate floor.
And finally – after 8 years of trying and failing, grouping, strategizing, building, expanding, pressuring, endless days and nights – aggressive opposition from Republicans, the NRA, law enforcement – and the Democrats – SAPA finally got to the governor’s desk.
The work isn’t done, not even close. SAPA needs to be signed, and supporters in Missouri need to call Gov. Parson’s office at (573) 751-3222. Firmly, but politely urge him to sign HB85 into law.
And then the work still isn’t done. Not even close.
As Samuel Adams wrote:
“Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made, which is the wish of our enemies, the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance.”