Yael T. Abouhalkah

In alarming ruling, Missouri’s gun-friendly Constitution now allows felons to possess weapons

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker reacted with firm resolve Friday, calling on the Missouri General Assembly to make it clear felons should not be able to possess guns in the state.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker reacted with firm resolve Friday, calling on the Missouri General Assembly to make it clear felons should not be able to possess guns in the state. The Kansas City Star

The gun-loving Missouri General Assembly went overboard in 2014, asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment that said “the right to keep and bear arms is an unalienable right” in the state.

Many law enforcement officials were horrified, saying this could open the way for felons to possess guns. But voters approved the measure.

Now look what happened Friday.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker lashed out after a circuit judge in St. Louis ruled that the constitutional amendment can’t prohibit a felon from possessing a gun.

Here is the ruling.

Baker’s response was right on point.

“About a year ago, my office and others warned Sen. Kurt Schafer and the Missouri General Assembly that a then-proposed Constitutional Amendment could raise new, deadly concerns for law-abiding citizens. Now, I’m disheartened to see that those warnings may be coming true... Everyone should agree that more guns in the hands of more criminals will only equal more violence. If prosecutors lose the ability to prosecute felons in possession of firearms, more gang members, drug dealers and domestic abusers — the persons responsible for most of the shootings in our communities — will be allowed to carry guns.”

Schaefer, the amendment’s sponsor, last year had said it was “absurd” to think it would allow potentially dangerous felons to have guns.

Who look’s absurd now, Mr. Schaefer?

Another guy looking bad as this drama unfolds: Attorney Gen. Chris Koster, the Democratic hopeful for governor in 2016.

Last year Koster strongly backed Amendment 5 before it got to voters.

Baker had the right response to Friday’s ruling:

“The Missouri General Assembly broke this. Now they need to fix it. It’s time to choose protecting public safety over politics.”

That apparently means quickly passing laws making it ultra-clear that Missouri will not allow felons to wave around weapons in the state of Missouri.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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