Local law enforcement: Missouri House Bill 436 will keep criminals on street

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by KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on September 5, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 6 at 5:51 AM

(KMOV.com) -- Local police officials are pleading with legislators to stop a Missouri gun bill they say will keep criminals on the streets.

House Bill 436 has passed once already, but a veto from Governor Jay Nixon halted it, something police say needs to remain permanent.       

St. Louis County Police Chief Team Fitch and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson say passage of the bill would mean local police can’t get help from federal agencies like the FBI or ATF if there are gun violations involved.

They also say it opens the door for violent repeat offenders to return to the streets of St. Louis.

“Gangs, drugs firearms offense, almsot everything we do with federal agencies had some federal impact on firearms enforcement,” said Fitch.  “It will take away our ability to enforce exisiting laws.”

The State House and Senate could override Nixon’s July 5 veto, making HB 436 a law. Mayor Francis Slay says- though the initial concept was well-intentioned- the flaws in the bill are too large to ignore.  

“It was introduced I guess as an effort to be a pro-gun bill but I think- I know that there are unintended consequences to this bill,” he said. 

One such consequence would mean federal agents- like the ones who just last July helped local police arrest almost 200 criminals and seize hundreds of firearms- would be commiting a crime by enforcing those federal gun laws in the state of Missouri.

It would also keep those habitual offenders from being prosecuted in federal court where sentences are often more severe.

“The state court has arrested those people,” said Chief Dotson. “We’ve arrested those people over 2300 times and they’re still out on the street.”

News 4 tried to get in touch with several legislators who voted to pass the measure but we have yet to hear back.

Chief Fitch says the lawmakers probably didn’t know better, but now there’s no excuse to let it happen again.

“Our job is tough enough,” he said. 

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