St. Louis County Police Chief Fitch weighs in on gun bill

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CLAYTON, Mo. (KTVI) – St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch is joining St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson in opposing Missouri House Bill 436.  The bill was passed to protect the rights of Missouri gun owners.

Chief Fitch sent a letter outlining his reasons for opposition to Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones.  Fitch shares some of the same concerns expressed by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster earlier this week.

The bill initially passed as a way to keep federal authorities from seizing guns from Missouri gun owners.  Fitch believes his own officers could land in legal trouble if the bill became law.

Fitch believes if officers seized guns in a crime and turned them over to federal authorities, then the criminals could turn around sue the officers.

“I’m very supportive of the 2nd amendment and gun owners’ rights,” said Fitch.  “This is different.”

The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Doug Funderburk, (R) St. Peters, defends the legislation.  He believes Koster’s interpretation is a political ploy, coming one week before the veto session begins.

Funderburk believes concerns from Fitch and other police chiefs will never materialize.  He said concerns are based on an interpretation of the bill if only certain parts of it became law.

“There is no judge in their right mind that would do that,” said Funderburk.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson opposes the bill.  He shares some of Fitch’s same concerns.

“It’s the opinion of the general counsel for the police department, that it restricts our ability to work with federal agencies and to prosecute people for federal gun crimes,” said Dotson.

Funderburk said public support for his bill was running about 30 to 1 before Koster released his opinion.  He said now the number is more like 15-1.  “I feel like I have Missourians backing me on this one.”

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