Voters in the “Show Me” State overwhelmingly approved an amendment to Missouri’s state constitution that dramatically strengthens the gun rights of its citizens and makes gun control a much tougher sell, legally speaking.
The question put to voters read “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?”
The measure passed, 61 percent to 31 percent. Every jurisdiction outside of the city and county of St. Louis supported it except Boone County, which voted against it 53 to 47 percent. State Senator Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, was one of the originating bill’s sponsors and said that the state constitution needed to be adjusted in light of pro-gun rulings in the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years.
“I think it was very important to people to shore up that right and make it just as viable as other constitutional rights,” Schaefer said the morning after the elections.
Section 23, Article I, of the Missouri Constitution deals with arms, ammunition, and firearms accessories. It previously stated that Missouri citizens had the right to keep and bear arms in defense of “home, person, family and property” and that that right “shall not be questioned.”
The new amendment adds this: “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. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those duly adjudged mentally infirm by a court of competent jurisdiction.”
“Unalienable” rights cannot be taken away. “Strict scrutiny” requires judicial review that finds restrictions would meet compelling government interest and that they are so narrow as to only meet those specific interests without causing other restrictions.
Law enforcement agencies and anti-gun groups campaigned hard for the amendment’s defeat.