When Missourians go to the polls Aug. 5 they will be asked to consider whether or not to amend the state constitution to strengthen the right to own and bear firearms.
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?
What it means:
Amendment 5 expands on a provision that already exists in the Missouri state Constitution that guarantees a right to keep and bear arms, ammunition and accessories that are associated with the arms. The amendment would still allow to retain control over limiting arms possession by convicted felons and the mentally ill.
Supporters, like Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Republican from Colombia, say the measure protects a fundamental right that the country was founded on. They also say the measure will force the courts to use a higher standard of review when considering a constitutionality of gun controls, elevating the right to bare arms to the level of protection reserved for fundamental rights such as free speech and the right to vote.
"The erosion of even one constitutional liberty signals the vulnerability of them all," Scharfer told St. Louis Public Radio. "This measure is about drawing a line in the sand and making it clear that in Missouri, we will do everything in our power to safeguard the freedoms we’ve enjoyed since the creation of this country.”
Opponents say the measure would make it harder to regulate guns and violent criminals. They also say the ballot language is vague and gives no definition of the "normal function" of a weapon. They also say that the Missouri Constitution already provides some of the most permissive protections to gun owners.
Chuck Hatfield, an attorney representing groups that are challenging the ballot language, says the Amendment goes further than most people want to go.
"It would call into question the ability of the government to regulate concealed weapons," Hatfield said. "I believe that if the amendment passes, that the permitting requirement (for concealed carry weapons) would be struck down."