Court backs Schaefer on gun amendment


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Supreme Court knocked down a legal challenge to Amendment 5, a 2014 measure that expanded Missouri gun rights and that opponents said would endanger citizens.

In August of 2014, primary voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 5, which read: “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?”

Republicans across Missouri largely rallied behind the measure as an expansion of Second Amendment rights. Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, and a 2016 candidate for Attorney General, has vehemently defended the legislation, which he championed in the Senate. Schaefer argued the case before the court himself, along with briefs submitted on behalf of Missourians Protecting the Second Amendment, and separate briefs filed by Senate Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, and former House Speaker Tim Jones.

Senator Kurt SchaeferThe law’s challengers, which included St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, argued to the court that the ballot language was insufficient and unfair and failed to place the question before voters impartially.

“Today’s victory is a clear win for Missouri gun owners, sportsmen, and future generations who will continue to be able to enjoy one of our most fundamental rights, the right to keep and bear arms,” Schaefer said in a statement. “And make no mistake…liberals like Michael Bloomberg and St. Louis Police Chief Dodson who wish to take guns away from law-abiding citizens were dealt a major defeat. It was an honor to pass and defend this monumental amendment to our state’s constitution”

Several Democrats have already spoken against the bill, which they say makes it easier for convicted criminals to get weapons. Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis, said the amendment had “unintended consequences.”

“I am deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision today, particularly in light of the unintended consequences that we have already seen come up,” Mitten said. “Such as the circuit court ruling that convicted felons may carry firearms.”

In a summary, the court said the ballot language was clear and ultimately upheld Schaefer’s argument: “It was not insufficient or unfair for the ballot title not to include reference to the amendment’s three provisions regarding strict scrutiny, concealed weapons, or ammunition and accessories.”