State employees came closer Tuesday to keeping concealed weapons in their vehicles on state-owned or leased parking lots.
"I believe it was back in 2005 that an executive rule was put out, that said that state employees could not have their firearms in their vehicles," Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, told Senate colleagues Tuesday morning. "Now, with so many people having a concealed carry permit, they're allowed to carry it ... everywhere else.
"And they ought to be able to leave it in their vehicle when they report to work as a state employee."
State Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, sponsored the original bill, which the House passed April 11 by a 126-25 margin.
The Senate sent the bill back to the House Tuesday, on a 26-7 vote, after adding three amendments on voice votes.
Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, won approval of his amendment - which also has been added to a couple of other bills - requiring communities with gun buy-back programs to have a local ordinance allowing the procedure, and to offer those weapons to "a federally licensed firearms dealer" before the weapons are destroyed.
Sen. Maria Chappelle Nadal, D-University City, noted the state's metropolitan areas are dealing with "people breaking into cars where there are guns" and stealing those weapons, then using them to commit other crimes.
Her amendment - which also was added to another bill that lawmakers already have sent to Gov. Jay Nixon - says the General Assembly "strongly promotes responsible gun ownership, including parental supervision of minors in the proper use, storage, and ownership of all firearms."
The amendment also says the state encourages "the prompt reporting of stolen firearms, and the proper enforcement of all state gun laws."
Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, won colleagues' approval of an amendment allowing a fire chief "who has a valid concealed carry endorsement," with the "written approval of the governing board of a fire department or fire protection district," to keep the weapon when he or she enters a building where a concealed weapon is prohibited, as long as "such uses are reasonably associated with or are necessary to the fulfillment of" the chief's official duties.
House members had added two amendments to the original bill, creating new crimes of:
• Unlawful possession or use of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and setting punishments from 10 years to life in prison for a conviction of that crime.
• Unlawful use of weapons if a person knowingly possesses a firearm while also possessing enough of a controlled substance to be charged with a felony.
But the Senate's General Laws Committee removed those amendments from the measure, leaving only Riddle's basic bill for the Senate to debate.
The House can accept the Senate's changes or ask for a conference committee to work out the differences.
Both chambers must pass the same language before 6 p.m. Friday, in order for Nixon to consider signing it into the lawbooks.