Sorry, Ex-Cons — You Do Not Have the Right to Bear Arms, Even in Missouri

Open carry? Not if you're a felon. - Photo by Theo Welling
Photo by Theo Welling
Open carry? Not if you're a felon.

So get this: If you've been convicted of a felony, even the gun-lovin' state of Missouri can — and will — stop you from carrying a gun.

Can you believe the audacity of this state? Stopping your Second Amendment right to bear arms?

The Missouri Supreme Court handed down a ruling today confirming what should have been clear a long time ago: The state constitution has not barred the legislature from restricting felons' rights to bear arms, even if those felons were convicted of non-violent offenses instead of the usual rapes and murders.

And that's even though Missouri voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2014 making gun rights paramount.

See also: Missouri Voters Approved Amendment 5, But It Took Jeffrey Smith to Test Its Limits

The controversy stemmed from that amendment. Enacted in 2014 by a vote of the people, Missouri's Amendment 5 included language stating, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the right of convicted violent felons [to bear arms] ….” At that point, some St. Louis judge decided that meant that the legislature wasn't allowed to limit the rights of nonviolent offenders, either. Since, you know, lawyers. The city appealed, and the case ended up in front of the entire state supreme court.

The majority opinion issued just now had this to say: 

The only specific groups of citizens addressed by Amendment 5 are those who are “convicted violent felons or those adjudicated by a court to be a danger to self or others as a result of a mental disorder or mental infirmity.” Amendment 5 makes explicit that the clarification of the application of strict scrutiny and the other changes adopted cannot be construed to prohibit regulation of arms by such persons. The amendment simply is silent as to others.

This does not mean that regulation of the possession of arms by others is not permitted. Were that the case, the amendment would have been very short indeed and would not have needed to address the level of scrutiny to be applied to regulations of the right to bear arms, for there could be no such regulation.

So, we're glad we could clear that up. You can read the court's full opinion online. Or you can just rail against those no-good leftist judges without actually reading it. Fine by us. We're just glad you ex-cons can't brandish a gun at us while you're ranting. The Missouri Supreme Court says so!

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About The Author

Sarah Fenske

Sarah Fenske is the executive editor of the RFT and its sister papers. She is the former host of St. Louis on the Air and continues to host its Legal Roundtable, as well participating as an occasional panelist on Nine PBS' Donnybrook. She lives in St. Louis.
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