The Missouri Supreme Court will hear a case Wednesday morning in Jefferson City challenging a 2008-gun law.
65-year-old Jack Alpert has owned Missouri Bullet Company(MBC), which manufacturers gun ammunition, since 2007. By 2010, he decided to expand the business to include manufacturing explosives and spent $62,000 on necessary equipment.
But when Alpert tried to renew his firearms license, he was told he was no longer eligible because of a state law passed in 2008 barring convicted felons from possessing arms. Alpert has two felony drug convictions still on the books from the 1970’s.
His bullet company was granted a federal license to continue manufacturing ammunition, and has been operating uninterrupted since. But because he’s barred from testing ammunition, Alpert says he won’t expand into explosives over liability issues. He’s not allowed to purchase the equipment needed to access product safety.
“In my case, we’re talking explosives,” said Alpert. “And you cannot combine explosives with customers without having reasonable certainty that you’re not going to harm the customer.”
Alpert claims he applied for a gubernatorial pardon when he found out he was not eligible to carry arms in 2010, but says has not heard back from either former Governor Jay Nixon-D or current office holder Eric Greitens-R.
Since 1968, the federal Gun Control Act has prohibited convicted felons from possessing firearms, but the statute allows people to petition for relief from the restriction.
Alpert was able to regain his 2nd Amendment rights under that provision in 1983. But the 2008 Missouri law nullified that standing.
Currently, Missouri allows for probation and a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) in many drug possession cases. Alpert claims to have employees at MBC who have felony drug infractions that have regained their gun rights after moving through the current system.
He thinks it’s unfair that he’s being penalized for his 1970’s convictions which wouldn’t carry the same criminal consequences today. “If my 1970’s arrests would have happened today, number one, I would have gotten instant probation. Nobody goes to jail on possessing $25 worth Benzedrine tablets. Craziness”.
Court documents filed by Alpert’s attorney say his company in western Missouri’s Johnson County is one of the most successful cast bullet manufacturers in the country, with 10 employees who receive health insurance and an employer-sponsored IRA. The filing says MBC grossed $2 million in 2016.
Alpert’s frustrated that because of his predicament, he can’t even test the bullets his company produces. “(I was) an arms dealer for what 25, 30 years. Never a problem with the ATF, with anybody, no charges, no criminal acts of any kind. You aren’t going to find a squeakier, cleaner person than me.”
The document also says Alpert has stage four renal (kidney) cancer, and is mainly seeking to possess two firearms which are family heirlooms. One is a World War II Belgian pistol his father brought home that was confiscated from a Nazi officer. The other is a World War II rifle he was awarded in 1993 after participating in a marksmanship program.
Alpert’s attorney will be arguing before the Supreme Court for the 2008 law barring convicted felons from possessing guns to be thrown out as unconstitutional.
The state, led by Attorney General Josh Hawley, contends there’s no case to argue because Alpert doesn’t own any guns he could fight in court to keep.