Missouri Supreme Court Upholds Gun Rights


Missouri Supreme Court Upholds Gun Rights

Great news for the people of my homestate:

The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld a constitutional amendment approved by voters in August that bolsters gun rights.

In February, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson presented his case against the amendment, alleging the ballot summary presented to voters was misleading and failed to explain the amendment, making it an irregular election.

The summary presented to voters said “that the right to keep and bear arms is an unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right.”

The court disagreed and held the election results valid.

Amendment 5, which 60 percent of August voters supported, declares the right to keep and bear arms “unalienable” and subjects laws restricting gun rights to “strict scrutiny.” Residents have the right to keep ammunition and accessories, as well as the right to defend their families with firearms — a right previously limited to defending home, property and person.

The amendment also repeals wording that states that the right to bear arms does not justify carrying concealed weapons. Lawmakers can still pass laws limiting the rights of convicted violent felons and people with mental illnesses.

Dotson is Chief of Police, a political position appointed by the mayor (anti-gun advocate St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay) as opposed to sheriff, an elected and accountable position. The ballot initiative was passed overwhelmingly 61-39% by Missouri voters. Anti-2A activists, including the daily newspaper's editorial board, claimed that the law extended Second Amendment protections to felons, which it expressly does not. 

Ballot title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is a unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right?

State and local governmental entities should have no direct costs or savings from this proposal. However, the proposal’s passage will likely lead to increased litigation and criminal justice related costs. The total potential costs are unknown, but could be significant.

Fair ballot language, bold my emphasis:

A "yes" vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to expand the right to keep and bear arms to include ammunition and related accessories for such arms. This amendment also removes the language that states the right to keep and bear arms does not justify the wearing of concealed weapons. This amendment does not prevent the legislature from limiting the rights of certain felons and certain individuals adjudicated as having a mental disorder.

A "no"; [sic] vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding arms, ammunition, and accessories for such arms.

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

The measure amended Section 23 of Article I of the Missouri Constitution to read as:

Democrat Rep. Jeanne Kirkton was quoted in her support of the Amendment:

Under Amendment 5, the state will still have the authority to enact reasonable laws to protect the public and punish violent felons who possess firearms, but won’t be able to impose restrictions that infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Back to the fair ballot language: 

This amendment does not prevent the legislature from limiting the rights of certain felons and certain individuals adjudicated as having a mental disorder.

Lawmakers did not extend Second Amendment protections to felons. Rather, to quote Rep. Kirkton, "Amendment 5 will protect law-abiding gun owners and further guard against unnecessary government overreach." Exactly. If courts are going to restrict Second Amendment rights, they must meet a high standard of review to do so. 

The court disagreed with Dotson and the Bloomberg anti-gun lobby and ruled in favor of the constituency that passed the initiative. 


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