A National Rifle Association attack ad targeting Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Jason Kander features a narrator who falsely claims Kander “voted against letting me defend myself at my apartment with a gun if I choose.” But the bill in question had nothing to do with whether people are allowed to defend themselves in the home with a gun.
The NRA has spent nearly $3 million on the Senate race in Missouri, including almost $2.5 million in spending against Kander, and nearly $500,000 in spending supporting Republican incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt. Gun policy has played a significant role in the campaign since the release of a viral ad where Kander assembles a gun blindfolded while describing his experiences as a combat veteran in Afghanistan and explaining the need for background checks to keep guns away from terrorists.
In an October 31 NRA ad, a woman identified as Jessica from Ballwin, MO, claims that “Jason Kander voted against letting me defend myself at my apartment with a gun if I choose.” The NRA ad cites a vote Kander made on House Bill 668 in 2009 while serving in the Missouri House of Representatives as evidence of this claim:
JESSICA: If you’re like most people, you just want this election to end. So how do we decide? For me, it’s about respect. Jason Kander does not respect my right to self-defense. Jason Kander voted against letting me defend myself at my apartment with a gun if I choose. It should be my choice, because it’s my right. Don’t let Jason Kander take your rights away.
H.B. 668 wasn’t about self-defense inside the home. Instead, it was legislation that expanded the scope of permissible self-defense outside the home in a way similar to controversial “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws. This fact is explained in a since-deleted 2009 notice on the NRA’s website urging NRA supporters to advocate for the bill’s passage, where the NRA explained H.B. 668 “would expand Missouri’s Castle Doctrine to now include your private property boundaries” -- meaning it would have expanded the self-defense protections already available in the home to outdoor property.
Both before and after the passage of H.B. 668, Missouri has been considered a “Castle Doctrine” state, meaning that people do not have a duty to retreat when employing deadly force in defense of the home. Voting for or against H.B. 668 has no bearing on this fact.
It is unlikely even that the kind legislation described by the ad -- a bill that would allow or disallow people to use a gun in the home for self-defense -- would be proposed or voted on by anyone. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion in the landmark 2008 decision District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding people to keep a gun in the home for self-defense -- meaning that the type of legislation imagined by the NRA in their anti-Kander ad would be a non-starter.