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Missouri Supreme Court Nullifying Gun Rights Amendment

Freedom Center of Missouri Files Brief

Missouri First Home

September 28, 2015 - Jefferson City, MO

On August 5, 2014, over 60% of Missouri voters ratified Amendment 5 and thereby added to the Missouri Constitution sweeping new protections to our right to keep and bear arms.

Since then, the Missouri Supreme Court has been on a course of systematic nullification of the People's will.

It started with an after-the-vote challenge to Amendment 5's ballot title. Although the court found the ballot title “fair and sufficient”, they explained that their ruling was based on the assumption that Amendment 5 didn't really add any new protections to our rights. That set the court up to mold the amendment into their own liking.

FELON IN POSSESSION CASES

Next came two criminal court cases in which both defendants had been accused of violating a state law that prohibits felons – all felons – from possessing a firearm. The alleged violations were before Amendment 5 passed. The two men had previous convictions for felonies not related to any violence. Since Amendment 5 only allows the state to pass laws restricting the gun rights of “convicted violent felons”, both defendants claimed protection under the new constitutional provision.

The prosecutors appealed and the Supreme Court decided that the new standard didn't apply to them, since they were arrested before August 5th. Nonetheless, the Court took that opportunity to inject some “dicta” in their written opinion that they could later use as an excuse to unravel Amendment 5.

MORE FELON IN POSSESSION CASES

“Later” is now. Three more cases involving Amendment 5 are before the Supreme Court right now. Briefs for two of them were due Monday, September 28. These cases also involve men who were once convicted of non-violent felonies and were found in possession of firearms after serving their time. These men, however, were arrested after the Constitution was changed by Amendment 5.

If, in these new cases, the Missouri Supreme Court continues on the trajectory set by the prior cases, little will be left of our new gun rights protections. The will of the voters, and the legislators who put the question on the ballot, will be effectively extinguished.

One of the problems with court cases like these is the fact that the defendant's attorney is focused on getting his client off, not producing a result that will bolster our overall liberty. On the other hand, the findings of the Court can certainly be used as a precedent to undermine our rights forever.

FREEDOM CENTER OF MISSOURI SCHOOLS THE COURT

That's why we are all fortunate that the Freedom Center of Missouri filed an amicus brief in this case. Dave Roland provided the court with arguments that they weren't likely to hear from other sources. They are legal and constitutional arguments designed not just to protect the rights of the accused, but also the rights of every Missourian.

Dave's brief anticipates the possibility that the reasoning the Missouri Supreme Court is using to undermine Amendment 5 could also undermine the People's ability to constitutionally constrain the courts' ability to nullify ANY of our rights.

Please follow this link for a copy of Dave's easy to read brief to get the larger picture, but this excerpt is what I think sums up Dave's argument...

“By amending Article I, Section 23, the people of Missouri used some of the most powerful language available to them [e.g. 'unalienable', 'strict scrutiny'] in order to demand that this state’s government and courts must afford the highest level of protection for the citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and firearms accessories. …

If this Court should rule that the language of Article I, Section 23, does not establish the highest possible level of constitutional protection for the rights articulated therein, amicus implores the Court to give the people of Missouri guidance as to what language they would need to adopt to accomplish that highest level of protection for this particular right, or for any other right they wish to put beyond the government’s reach.”

We need to make sure that the Missouri Supreme Court understands that the People are still in charge. Through Amendment 5, the citizens of Missouri used the court's own vernacular – words like “unalienable” and “strict scrutiny” – to place constitutional limits on their power, and they need to understand that we simply won't stand still when they abuse the power the People have loaned them!

Please spread the word. Write letters to the editor of your local papers. Call in to radio programs. Talk to your elected officials. Make a stink BEFORE the court rules away our new constitutional protection of the right to keep and bear arms!

For liberty,

- Ron

ps What I and other members of Missouri First do we can afford to do without compensation of any sort. We have other jobs. But Dave Roland is working nearly full time pro bono – for free – through his public interest law firm, the Freedom Center of Missouri, to protect our liberty. As you can see from the brief he spent countless hours preparing, the Freedom Center is one of liberty's best resources in Missouri.

Dave needs our support if he's to continue to be Liberty's Lawyer in Missouri AND feed his growing family.

Please consider sending them a generous contribution so they can keep up this essential work. Go to http://www.mofreedom.org/

 

 

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Article I Section 23
Missouri Constitution

In order to assert our rights, acknowledge our duties, and proclaim the principles on which our government is founded, we declare:

That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms, in defense of his home, person, family and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned. 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 adjudicated by a court to be a danger to self or others as result of a mental disorder or mental infirmity.

 

 

 

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