Even as the Obama administration unveiled plans for tighter gun control, state legislators began pre-emptive action to counteract any coming regulations.
Under legislation introduced in the Missouri Senate on Wednesday, federal agents trying to enforce new gun restrictions in Missouri would be guilty of a Class D felony. The bill seeks to nullify any federal law restricting semiautomatic guns and accessories beyond restrictions that existed at the end of 2012. Similar legislation had been filed in the Missouri House earlier in the week.
By nightfall Wednesday, the measures combined to draw nearly 70 co-sponsors.
"We need to stand up for our rights and how we interpret the Constitution here in Missouri," said Republican state Sen. Brian Munzlinger of Williamstown, who introduced one of the bills.
Critics dismiss the legislation as meaningless given that courts have ruled that federal law supersedes state law.
Meantime, any pushes by Missouri cities to impose municipal control over guns look unlikely. State law currently prohibits such ordinances.
Danny Rotert, spokesman for Kansas City Mayor Sly James, said "gun violence, for the most part, happens on our streets, and yet we don't have the ability to regulate guns at all."
The flood of attention that focuses on gun violence after shootings like the one in Connecticut is good, he said, but Missouri's cities have "a slow-motion massacre" every year.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has called for lawmakers to give local governments the ability to craft their own gun laws, although he admits the likelihood of success is small.
"We've got a state that loves ... guns," Slay said in a recent interview with a St. Louis television station.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon said he would not support giving cities the power to regulate guns.
Kansas cities are also banned from enacting their own gun laws.
In fact, Missouri and Kansas gun laws are very similar. Neither state requires a permit for the purchase of rifles, shotguns or handguns. Both issue concealed-carry permits to those over the age of 21 and have similar restrictions, such as banning permits to those with felony convictions or who have been deemed mentally incompetent.