In what may be the most significant victory for gun rights advocates in years, the voters in Missouri approved Amendment 5, a constitutional measure to protect the rights of people to carry arms and use them in the defense of themselves and others. The Joint Senate resolution passed 61% to 39%.
The question on the ballot itself was: “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?”
Most other states already have firearm and defense protections, but SJR36 is unique because of it’s language and it’s purpose. It not only fixes previous court contradictions by using the terms “inalienable rights” and “strict scrutiny” but it directs all three branches of government to actively protect these rights, including in the case of an outside government attempting to infringe. But the amendment does not contain the incendiary language of penalties for cooperation.
State Sen. Kurt Schaefer told CBS News report, “There may be some times when the right is infringed by the federal government or by someone else, where it is incumbent on the state to step forward. Will there be a cost with that?” he asked. “Absolutely. Is that cost worth it to uphold that right that Missourians have? Absolutely.”
Ron Calzone, a liberty advocate from Missouri First was ecstatic, saying this change was anything but subtle, calling it a “huge change from the status quo.” By using such language, courts are kept from finding any wiggle room in cases regarding gun ownership or defensive use. It is the highest judicial standard possible and is intended to provide the strongest defense of gun rights in the nation.
Some opponents felt this was an attempt to nullify federal laws restricting the ownership of firearms to only those deemed legally responsible. The amendment did allow the government to restrict ownership by convicted felons and those judged mentally ill, however.
Proponents surely will not openly admit that this amendment is a “nullification,” but it does essentially nullify any restrictions that may be passed by the federal government that land in Missouri courts. This will provide some interesting constitutional debate in the future, as the issue of federalism and the purpose of the Second Amendment will be debated both theoretically and in the court system years from now.
But for the time being, gun owners and liberty advocates can rejoice because a large majority of their state has agreed to this constitutional amendment, and their freedoms will be protected the way they were intended.