August 8, 2014

Missouri Further Secures Right to Bear Arms

On Tuesday, Missouri voters strengthened gun rights in the Show Me State.

On Tuesday, Missouri voters pushed aside the concerns of law enforcement, particularly from urban areas, and approved a ballot measure revamping their state constitution to strengthen gun rights in the Show Me State. The measure passed with 61% of the vote, carrying all but three jurisdictions: St. Louis City and County, and Boone County, which encompasses the university town of Columbia. The move is a step towards changing how the right to bear arms is seen.

The ballot measure was important to legal analysts because it made Missouri just the second state to adopt the “strict scrutiny” standard for gun laws. When interpreting a law with “strict scrutiny” a court has to find that a law furthers a “compelling government interest,” is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest, and utilizes the least restrictive method to achieve it. It’s the highest standard among the three categories of scrutiny in legal doctrine. It is also how the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment are interpreted in the U.S. Constitution. Some argue the Supreme Court majority adopted “strict scrutiny” in its DC vs. Heller decision, even though it wasn’t specifically mentioned there. This could be the new trend in Second Amendment interpretation and a significant upgrade from the “rational basis” standard often used, the lowest of the three.

“Strict scrutiny is a big da– deal,” said St. Louis attorney Chuck Hatfield, an opponent of the ballot issue. “Right now, the law is that the state has the right to regulate guns and arms in a reasonable exercise of police power. Strict scrutiny is a whole other game.”

But the legislator who introduced the measure argued that his intent was to make the Second Amendment “just as viable as other constitutional rights.” The measure also extended the right to bear arms already in the state’s constitution and added ammunition and “the accessories typical to the normal function of such arms,” while eliminating a prohibition on concealed carry.

“The Missouri Constitution is now the gold standard for the protection of the individual right to keep and bear arms,” added state Senator Kurt Schaefer.

To most, the Missouri vote was just an extension of the common sense found in most areas of what’s called “flyover country” by denizens of the coasts. By further spelling out the open-ended provisions of the Second Amendment, Missouri has taken a step toward the founders’ intent by leaving the options for self-defense as open as possible.

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