There is a state Senate Committee hearing (General Laws) today for SB 613 (Second Amendment Protection Act or "SAPA") 2014 Regular Session. The Lawrence County Sheriff's Auxiliary submitted written testimony for the bill, primarily concerning the provisions creating the role of a School Protection Officer and its potential interaction with armed volunteers under law enforcement.
[Update 21 February 2014: This bill has passed the Missouri Senate 23-10.]
The bill is very similar to that introduced in 2013, passed by both houses, and vetoed by the Governor. A veto override was very nearly successful in 2013. The 2014 version contains some minor changes to satisfy concerns of law enforcement. The Missouri Senate website contains the bill summary and full bill text. In short, the bill:
- nullifies federal firearm laws which infringe on the 2nd Amendment and the 10th Amendment interests of the state, creating civil and criminal penalties for attempted enforcement of Unconstitutional restrictions. At the same time, pragmatically, firearm restrictions remain substantially the same because of state law.
- clarifies open-carry ordinances to ensure that CCW holders can open-carry even where locally prohibited.
- creates the role of a School Protection Officer to authorize designated non-peace officers to conceal carry on school grounds for protective duties and establishes rules for that role.
- restricts the ability of health professionals to ask about and record gun ownership information.
- requires that the local Sheriff is notified of state and federal warrants served and the Sheriff or designee may oversee service
- lowers the CCW age to 19.
- clarifies that unlawful possession of a weapon applies to someone in the US illegally.
The Lawrence County Sheriff's Auxiliary is officially in favor of this bill, given the caveats in our submitted testimony.
Testimony in Reference To SB 613, Second Amendment Protection Act
26 January 2014
Eric Vought, Commander
Lawrence County Sheriff's Auxiliary,
In my official capacity
Honorable Members of the Committee:
The Lawrence County Sheriff's Auxiliary ( http://lcmoauxiliary.org ) is a volunteer emergency and disaster response organization operating under the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office which provides a pool of trained volunteers to augment the Sheriff's Office during non-routine operations and provide additional capabilities from the community to support routine operations (e.g. communications, intelligence, chaplaincy). Because we incorporate trained, armed, non-peace-officer volunteers, potential changes to Missouri firearms laws concern us greatly. This testimony is delivered IN SUPPORT of SB 613, with the approval of the Lawrence County Sheriff, *given the following considerations*:
1) It is very important to us that RsMO 571.030.2(1) be retained intact as in the introduced bill text. 570.030.2(1) provides authority for our volunteers to operate under a licensed peace officer in an emergency situation "...or any person summoned by such officers to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace while actually engaged in assisting such officer..." We would not support *any* proposal which weakens this provision.
2) The LCS Auxiliary generally supports the authority of school districts to authorize and regulate the carry of firearms for purposes of school protection if they choose to do so. It should be noted that several current officers of the LCS Auxiliary are also local school teachers. We have concerns about the proposed language for creating School Protection Officers ("SPOs", 160.665):
a) First, noting that School Administrators *currently* have authority to permit someone who may otherwise lawfully bear arms to carry on school grounds, that this existing authority presumably includes school employees or volunteers, and that the proposed SPOs appear to have no authority beyond that of ordinary citizens to intervene to prevent a forcible felony (per 160.665.3), we question the goal of the proposed text. SB 613 better states the authority of the SPO versus the SAPA introduced in the 2013 Regular Session, but it also appears to make the position redundant. In fact, given the POST requirement in this bill text, it may be read as to actually *reduce* the authority of school administrators to provide their own protection absent POST certification. To any extent that this provision may reduce the authority of the School Administrator, we do not support this provision.
b) We request that the language "or volunteers" be added to the first sentence of 160.665.1 or that the text otherwise explicitly permits community volunteers who are *neither teachers nor administrators* to be designated as SPOs. This would allow designated, trained volunteers under local law enforcement, such as LCS Auxiliary or Volunteers In Police Service (VIPS) volunteers to participate in the program and coordinate with the schools. For that matter, our change would allow SPOs who are continuing education or graduate *students* at a institute of higher learning. The LCS Auxiliary can then work to unify volunteer training requirements with whatever certification is adopted by the schools or vice-versa. Similar modification may be required in 160.665.6.
c) In 160.665.2, an SPO is forbidden to allow a firearm out of his or her personal control while it is on school property. We request that the text be modified to allow securing of a firearm according to policies of the local school district. Suggest adding "...unless properly secured under the polices of the local school district" after "...on school property" and before the period. We fully support the second sentence of this clause which causes an SPO to be immediately removed for failing to abide by this policy but we see no problem with, for instance, the school providing a designated safe for the temporary deposit of a firearm or, for instance, the school coordinating with Law Enforcement or the Master of Arms of an organization such as ourselves to secure a weapon during an emergency.
d) The changes to 590 to cause the POST Commission to define the training standards for a School Protection Officer are premature. We are not aware of any organized program to implement a role similar to the SPO anywhere in Missouri, despite the fact that current law arguably allows the districts to implement such. It is our position that POST should be brought into play in order to standardize observed best practice. As there is no current practice at all, there is *nothing yet to standardize*. Further, the SPO appears to have no authority whatsoever outside the school district in which they are designated, so there is no danger of conflicting standards causing confusion between districts across the state.
Allow the districts themselves to *specify their own standards* for the time being. They may and should consult with appropriate organizations and expertise, including any requirements of their insurance carriers. POST absolutely should have a role in coordinating that process and *advising* the districts, but the role is not yet ripe for a centralized standard. Organizations such as Volunteers In Police Services (VIPS) which the LCS Auxiliary participates in and which is present in a number of Missouri counties has a mechanism for sharing and recommending policies for reuse.
Given that, the list of topics for training in 590.200.1 appears acceptable, but Missouri does not have sufficient information at this time to know whether it is correct or complete. Fixing the training standard prematurely will prevent the districts from adapting the program to their needs and may end up with the SPO role stagnating. Further, it has a potential to create conflict with organizations such as the LCS Auxiliary who are already developing tactical and legal training guidance for the use of volunteers under law enforcement.
With the aforementioned caveats, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Auxiliary recommends the Committee vote Do Pass on SB 613.