Voters Guide

July 26, 2014

Amendment 5: Proposal aims to strengthen Missouri’s gun rights

A proposed state constitutional amendment would declare the right to bear arms, ammunition and accessories to be unalienable and would make restrictions on those rights subject to the highest level of judicial review.

A proposed constitutional amendment could make Missouri’s gun rights protections among the strictest in the country.

The amendment, which will be on the August ballot, would add ammunition and accessories to the items people have a right to keep and would add family to the list of things people have a right to defend.

It would declare those rights unalienable, make restrictions on those rights subject to strict scrutiny and obligate the state to uphold those rights. Legislators could still pass laws limiting the rights of violent felons or people with a mental illness.

Supporters say the amendment would simply add to Missourians’ gun rights. Critics fear it could put more guns in the hands of criminals.

The amendment’s sponsor, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Columbia Republican, has said the changes would make it clear that the right to bear arms is unalienable in Missouri. Attempts to infringe on residents’ right to keep and bear arms would be subject to the highest level of court scrutiny, he said.

But Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said she expected the amendment to be litigated in the courts, so its ultimate effect would depend on how judges rule. She is worried that court challenges could jeopardize weapons charges she uses against criminals.

To reach Allie Hinga, call 816-234-4070 or send email to ahinga@kcstar.com.

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