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Sen. Dempsey Defends His Gun Vote

Missouri Senate

Missouri’s top state senator is defending his vote against his party that helped squash the so-called Gun Nullification bill. Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, a Republican, voted last week to uphold the governor’s veto of a bill that would have barred enforcement of some federal gun laws.

Appearing on St. Louis Public Radio’s and the St. Louis Beacon’s Politically Speaking podcast on Thursday, Dempsey defended his vote which has drawn the ire of some conservatives. The Republican leader says he was swayed by police chiefs who said the bill would make their jobs harder -- and First Amendment groups who said provisions were unconstitutional. “And I was going to have to explain what had happened. Either why we had overridden the bill, or why the bill had failed. And I felt more comfortable with the latter position. I couldn’t with all sincerity - with the problems that were in the bill, and the potential harm I thought it could do - be sincere in my defense of the override,” Dempsey said. 

Numerous police chiefs spoke out against the bill, saying it would make law enforcement more difficult. The Missouri Press Association and the Missouri Attorney General both called it unconstitutional. Dempsey says he has received a fair amount of criticism for his vote, but points out that he has an “A” rating from the NRA. 

The NRA did not take a stance on the bill.


Chris McDaniel started at St. Louis Public Radio as a political reporter, predominantly covering the race between Senator Claire McCaskill and Congressman Todd Akin. Before coming to St. Louis, Chris worked at NPR stations in Louisville, Kentucky and Columbia, Missouri, and his work has been broadcast on NPR’s national newscasts. He is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri, where he studied journalism and political science. He is also the winner of the 2011 PAX East Super Smash Bros. Tournament. Chris enjoys dogs, anything by Cormac McCarthy, and listeners like you.
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