Missouri Gun Rights Amendment Goes to Voters in November

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Missouri Gun Rights Amendment Goes to Voters in November

The Missouri state legislature has voted to send a proposed amendment protecting gun rights to the ballot.

While they work on passing bills providing substantial protections for the right to keep and bear arms, Missouri state legislators are offering voters a way to directly stand up for that right themselves.

On May 7, the state senate voted 23-8 to approve a bill that would allow voters to consider a proposed amendment to the November general election ballot that would shore up the Second Amendment in the Show Me State. By a vote of 122-31, the state House of Representatives passed the proposal the day before.

The bill, Senate Joint Resolution 36, declares:

That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms, in defense of his home, person, family and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned. The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable. Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny and the state of Missouri shall be obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement.

Ironically, the bill does permit the state legislature to infringe upon the right it declared “unalienable” just one paragraph earlier, preserving for itself the power to enact "general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those duly adjudged mentally infirm by a court of competent jurisdiction."

Supporters of the proposal praised legislators for their effort to protect this fundamental right. "The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right and has been so since the founding of this country," state Representative Jay Barnes said, as quoted by The Associated Press.

In another statement, Barnes referred to the heightened threshold the bill would set for any attempt to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. “It ensures that Second Amendment rights, by subjecting government regulations impacting them to strict scrutiny,” Barnes explains, “is given the same protection afforded every other fundamental right in the United States’ and the Missouri Constitution.”

Opponents see the resolution as a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. "You're putting people's lives in jeopardy with this resolution," said state Representative Stacey Newman. "What problem are you trying to correct with this?”

The answer lies in the question Missourians will be called on to consider. The ballot will include the following question: "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?”

As indicated above, the legislature is not relying solely on the success of the ballot measure to build barricades around the rights protected by the Second Amendment.

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