(CNN) — Missouri's Democratic governor vetoed legislation Friday that sought to make federal gun laws unenforceable in the state.
In a carefully worded statement that prominently addressed his pro-gun bona fides in a state Mitt Romney carried 54% to President Obama's 44% in 2012, Gov. Jay Nixon argued that the legislation violated a provision in the U.S. Constitution called the Supremacy Clause. The Supremacy Clause gives preference to federal laws over state laws.
Called House Bill 436, the legislation cleared the Republican-controlled state Senate and House with huge majorities, 26-6 in the Senate and 116-38 in the House. It sought to make any federal legislation past, present and future "that infringe on the people's right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment" null and void in the state of Missouri.
Multiple states like Ohio, Minnesota and Texas have pursued similar bills in recent months in reaction to attempts at federal gun control legislation in the wake of the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That legislative push fell short of the 60 votes it needed to move forward in the U.S. Senate, although supporters have vowed to take it back up.
The Missouri bill would have also made it illegal to publish any information about a gun owner, in response to a controversy spurred by a newspaper in New York state that printed the names and addresses of numerous local residents who had firearms permits.
"This unnecessary and unconstitutional attempt to nullify federal laws would have violated Missourians' First Amendment right to free speech - while doing nothing to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners," Nixon said in the statement. "In fact, under this bill, newspaper editors around the state that annually publish photos of proud young Missourians who harvest their first turkey or deer could be charged with a crime."
In the same statement, Nixon touted his signing of House Bill 533, which expands some gun rights, including allowing state workers to keep firearms in their cars while on state property.
Nixon made sure Missouri voters understand he is a friend of firearms, clearly trying to stave off any attacks painting him as an opponent of Second Amendment rights. "The Governor has consistently signed bills expanding the rights of gun owners in Missouri," the statement says, including by lowering the minimum age to obtain a permit to carry concealed firearms in the state.
State House Speaker Tim Jones, a Repblican, reacted with shock to the veto and vowed to override it. The governor "generally has been an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment. I think he made a political, calculated move to veto House Bill 436," Jones said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio. "I really don't know what got to him other than special interest groups on the left."