The state legislature is asking Missouri voters whether the Constitution should be changed to provide a stronger right to bear arms.
The legislature has sent to the November ballot a proposal to define the right to bear arms in Missouri as “unalienable” and to require the state to defend any infringement of that right. It would also guarantee a constitutional right to defend one’s family with a firearm.
The proposal cleared the state Senate 23-8 on Wednesday after the House passed it 122-31 the day before.
Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) says he’s opposed past proposals that he thought would have put gun rights above other rights, but this is different.
“It ensures that Second Amendment rights, by subjecting government regulations impacting them to strict scrutiny,” says Barnes, referring to a form of judicial review used by courts to determine the constitutionality of certain laws, “is given the same protection afforded every other fundamental right in the United States’ and the Missouri Constitution.”
The ballot issue would also remove wording in the Missouri Constitution that say the right to bear arms does not justify wearing concealed weapons. Representative Linda Black (D-Desloge) says that brings to the Constitution up to date.
“Several years ago we passed that conceal and carry law, that we have the right to carry after completing sufficient course,” says Black. “So, it is something that needs to be changed. It’s inaccurate in our Constitution. It’s an error at this point in time that needs to be fixed.”
Representative Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) thinks the changes would hinder the prosecution of criminals that use guns.
“Current law allows those city prosecutors to file criminal charges for those who ignore the law,” says Newman, “and yet this resolution takes that tool away.”
The language for the November ballots reads, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is an unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right?”