JEFFERON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Republican-led Legislature took the first step Wednesday toward overriding a veto of a voter photo ID requirement as it met in a short session to also consider a measure significantly relaxing the state's gun laws.
The sweeping guns legislation would allow most adults to carry concealed weapons without needing a permit while also expanding people's right to defend themselves both in public and private places. The elections law change would require people to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls, if voters also approve a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.
Both measures passed earlier this year with enough support for lawmakers to overturn Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon if they stick to their original votes.
The House voted 115-41 Wednesday to override the photo ID veto — easily exceeding the required two-thirds majority of 109 votes. That sends the bill to the Senate, where 23 votes are needed for an override. Republicans control 114 House seats and 24 Senate seats.
The Republican supermajorities mean lawmakers have a good shot of adding to Nixon's record as the most overridden governor in Missouri history, a distinction made possible by an era of extreme political division in the Capitol. Heading into Wednesday, lawmakers had overridden Nixon on 83 bills and budget expenditures over his two terms in office — nearly four times more overrides than the combined total for all other governors dating back to 1820 when Missouri was still a territory.
Nixon vetoed more than 20 measures this year, including ones already overridden this spring blocking pay raises for home-care workers and changing the state's school funding requirements.
During House debate Wednesday, sponsoring Republican Rep. Justin Alferman argued that the photo ID requirement would "protect our elections against fraud."
Democratic Rep. Stacey Newman countered: "This bill is voter fraud on its face."
Missouri's photo ID measure contains several exceptions. If voters swear they don't have photo IDs, they would still be allowed to vote by showing other forms of identification. The bill also requires the state to pay for photo IDs for those lacking them. And if the state budget doesn't include money for such costs, then the ID requirement would not take effect.
Even then, the requirements wouldn't take effect unless voters this November approve a proposed constitutional amendment, which is needed because the Missouri Supreme Court struck down a previous photo ID law in 2006 as unconstitutional.
In a letter explaining his veto, Nixon said this year's measure would "disproportionately" impact senior citizens, people with disabilities and others who have been lawfully voting but don't have the government-issued photo ID required under the bill.
The veto override attempt on the gun legislation must start in the Senate. On Wednesday, gun rights supporters and gun control advocates fanned out through the Missouri Capitol. The National Rifle Association set up tables in the Rotunda between the House and Senate chamber, dispatching scores of volunteers to talk to lawmakers in support of the bill. The organization distributed signs saying, "NRA. Stand and Fight."
Meanwhile, about 150 people rallied with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America before also lobbying lawmakers. Participants spoke about family members who were fatally shot, and chapter leader Becky Morgan said the group will oppose lawmakers who vote to enact the bill when they're up for election.
If lawmakers override the veto, Missouri would join 10 other states with laws that allow most people to carry concealed guns even if they haven't gone through the training required for permits, according to the National Rifle Association.
The measure, described by supporters as "constitutional carry," would allow people to carry hidden guns anywhere they can currently carry weapons openly, effective Jan. 1. People who choose to still get a concealed-carry permit could potentially carry their weapons into places off-limits to others and could take them to states with reciprocal agreements.
The legislation also would create a "stand-your-ground" right, meaning people don't have duty to retreat from danger any place they are legally entitled to be present. The NRA says 30 states have laws or court precedents stating people have no duty to retreat from a threat anywhere they are lawfully present. But Missouri's measure would make it the first new "stand-your-ground" state since 2011.
It also would expand the "castle doctrine" by allowing invited guests such as baby sitters to use deadly force if confronted in homes.
The Missouri Police Chiefs Association and Missouri Fraternal Order of Police have criticized the proposal, and Kansas City Mayor Sly James has said it "endangers both our community and our law enforcement."