Senate gun rights bill would create armed volunteers

Associated Press
The Joplin Globe

JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri state senator who has proposed creating an official group of armed volunteers to help during state emergencies said the idea is designed to protect gun owners' rights.

The proposal by Sen. Bill White, a Republican from Joplin, would allow Missouri citizens to form a "minutemen of the state" group, which the governor could call on during a state of emergency.

The group members would supply their own weapons, ammunitions and supplies, which would become property of the state. Volunteers would enroll with the Department of Public Safety, The Joplin Globe reported. 

Critics of White's bill note Missouri already has volunteer forces, such as the Missouri National Guard and the Missouri Defense Force, a civilian defense organization.

White acknowledged the group would rarely be used and said the bill's purpose is to protect gun ownership, which he believes is threatened by Democratic President Joe Biden's administration and a Democratic majority in Congress.

The Missouri House in February approved a bill that bans local police from enforcing federal gun laws.

"It's a novel approach to Second Amendment protections," White said. "Because of the requirement of this bill to provide your own firearms and because those firearms become property of the state, the fed has no ability to regulate them or tax them."

White said the proposed volunteer force would be used during large statewide emergencies, and 75% of the Missouri Legislature would have to approve its mobilization.

The bill could go through committee hearings this session but White said he is prepared for it to languish, which would give him time to refine it before the next session.