ST. LOUIS–Days after the President of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys wrote to the bill’s sponsor asking it to be withdrawn, a bill dubbed by critics as the “Make Murder Legal Act” was voted down by a state legislative committee Thursday.
Senate Bill 666, “provides that a person who uses or threatens to use force in self-defense is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless such force was used against a law enforcement officer who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the person reasonably knew or should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer.”
The bill, sponsored by State Senator Eric Burlison, a Republican who represents parts of Christian and Greene counties, and is running for Congress in southwest Missouri, had support from St. Louis Attorney Mark McCloskey, who was charged along with his wife in 2020 for waving guns at protesters in front of their Central West End home. The pair later pleaded guilty and were pardoned by Missouri Governor Mike Parson.
In a January 30 letter to Burlison, Dan Patterson, the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney and president of the state association wrote of concerns that the bill would bar officers from detaining or arresting someone for any violent offense if they claim self-defense, including what he called an “absurd” scenario where a person who was buying or selling drugs could invoke the claim if the deal went bad and someone ended up dead.
The bill died in the Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee Thursday by a 4-3 vote. Burlison told our news partners at the Post-Dispatch that he could add the language to other bills later in this session.
He also told the paper that the labels attached to the bill are “over the top.”