Watch this space next week. You might be able to participate in breaking a law.
The legislature appears likely to pass a law over the Governor’s veto that violates the Free Speech and the Freedom of the Press guarantees of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It’s HB436, the so-called gun bill.
One provision says that any “person or entity” that publishes the “name, address, or other identifying information” of anyone who “owns a firearm” could be jailed for as much as one year.
Overridden bills will become law thirty days afer two-thirds of the members of each legislative chamber vote to override the veto.
Within minutes of the time the law becomes effective, the Missourinet will publish the names of some gun owners. In fact, we will publish the names of every legislator who votes on this bill. Most of them will be gun-owners. Publication of a public record of the names of gun-owner legislators who vote for or against the override will violate the law.
We take the First Amendment seriously at the Missourinet. It is the foundation of everything reporters do. The First Amendment is what sets this nation apart from other nations in this world. Freedom of the Press. Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Speech. The right to peacefully assemble. The right to redress grievances against the government.
We suspect we won’t be the only ones whose news organizations are represented at the House and Senate press tables who quickly will violate this law if the legislature enacts it.
Any gun owners or other readers who would like to join us in standing for the freedoms of the First Amendment will be invited to add their names to the list under “comments” to that blog if the legislature overrides the veto and threatens reporters or anybody else with a year in jail for exercising those First Amendment rights.