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Missouri Senate bill aims to establish Minutemen of the State

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 9:58 PM CST
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3) - A state Senate bill seeks to establish Minutemen of the State.

Senate Bill 528 would establish minutemen, who the governor may call into service in defense of the state during a state of emergency with the consent of two-thirds of the General Assembly.

Republican Senator Bill White from Joplin said his bill would allow ordinary citizens the chance to join forces and help the state through “dire” emergencies

”You know a lot of people want to have that commitment and that feeling if you will, of I am willing to stand up and go do something in that kind of emergency,” White said.

While the national guard is a military branch that can do the same, White said this would give everyday Missourians another opportunity to serve and protect the state during the most extreme types of emergencies.

”This is a different level of commitment that I think a lot of people would like the idea of saying okay, in those times of emergency I am willing to be called up. Absolutely,” he said.

In Greene County, Sheriff Jim Arnott said citizens often play a vital role during emergencies.

”On my standpoint, I would definitely call on citizens when I need it,” Arnott said. “And I do all the time.”

Arnott said the proposal is not much different than a program run by his office.

”I’ve got a great program called Citizens on Patrol, which puts citizens out in a neighborhood driving around in cars, gathering information for deputies,” he said. “It’s the same concept as this bill. I can call on them anytime and they come to our aide. And I think if we had a huge issue here in Greene County beyond what law enforcement could do, absolutely I would call on the citizens.”

Arnott said “it’s a two way street” where citizens often help deputies and the deputies help the citizens. He said it seems like many times citizens want to help, and even do so more nowadays.

Any Missouri resident who can lawfully own firearms would be able to volunteer. Under the legislation, Minutemen supply their own guns, ammunition and tactical gear.

“I wouldn’t have any issue doing it,” Arnott said. “I tell people all the time one of the things we need to do is make sure you can protect your family, your loved ones and yourself. So on the issue of guns and the Second Amendment, that’s what I want you to do, but I also want you to learn how to use the gun.”

Arnott said he thinks there would have to be a lot of planning involved to determine qualifications.

Tom Franiak used to be a part of the now defunct Ozarks Minutemen. He along with Sheriff Arnott said the bill could be helpful during dire circumstances as long as proper qualifications are involved.

“If there was a training program in place, absolutely,” Franiak said. “As long as they are trained properly, because you don’t want people running around half cocked.”

Franiak said he believes most volunteers would likely come from a an experienced background.

“The minute men that were in our organization years ago, most of them were good former military or former police which would be very good in extreme cases,” he said. “Most of them are very disciplined. Most of the already have great training with firearms and training to be in extreme situations. So they’re the right kind of people.”

Senator White said his bill also aims protect an individual’s right to bear arms.

“It is dual purpose,” White said. “You’d get the benefits of firearm protection. The Second Amendment issue is very strong. People are very concerned about it. It is pretty much a concern on the average citizen of Missouri.”

Under White’s proposal, the equipment minutemen are required to have would be considered property of the state and would not be subjected to any tax, levy, fees, stamp or seizure, nor could it be subject to registration or tracking.

White said he thinks his proposal could help protect a person’s right to bear arms while also enabling citizens to join forces when needed.

He said a Senate committee could possibly debate his bill in the next few weeks.

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