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Missouri governor vetoes one gun bill, signs another

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon participates in a debate with David Spence at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia, Missouri, September
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon participates in a debate with David Spence at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia, Missouri, September

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Friday vetoed a bill that would have called on the state to prosecute federal officials who attempt to enforce federal gun laws in Missouri and prohibit publication of the names of people owning guns.

Nixon also signed into law a bill allowing state employees to keep guns in state vehicles they use for work or on state property and permitting fire chiefs to carry concealed weapons.

Nixon, a Democrat, said the bill he vetoed was "unconstitutional" as it would nullify some federal gun laws and also infringe on rights of free speech by punishing anyone who published names of gun owners in Missouri.

Nixon noted that federal laws supersede state laws.

"In fact, under this bill, newspaper editors around the state that annually publish photos of proud young Missourians who harvest their first turkey or deer could be charged with a crime," Nixon said.

Lawmakers in some conservative states have sought to ban publication of the names of gun owners after a newspaper in New York published an interactive map showing the names and addresses of people holding concealed carry gun permits. The map published by the Journal News in December 2012 sparked outrage and the newspaper pulled it.

Nixon's veto could be overridden by the Republican-dominated legislature when they next meet in September.

Earlier this year in neighboring Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback signed a law to prevent any guns or ammunition in the state from being subject to federal regulations. As in Missouri, the law sought to make a crime out of enforcing federal gun laws. On April 26. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote Brownback that the new state law was unconstitutional.

In Missouri, the bill Nixon vetoed also would have allowed trained "school protection officers" to carry concealed weapons on school property. Another part of the bill would have lowered the legal age to carry a concealed weapon from 21 to 19.

Nixon described himself as strong supporter of gun rights, such as expansion of conceal and carry laws. He said he is a gun owner and hunter.

(Editing by Andrew Hay)

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