In Missouri, Gun Rights Safeguarded in Amendment

Congratulations to our U.S. Law Shield Missouri members for helping to pass a state-constitution amendment to strengthen the Show Me State’s right to arms provision.

On August 5, the state’s voters overwhelmingly approved (61% to 39%) the passage of an amendment that makes Missouri the second state to explicitly to require strict scrutiny as the standard of review in all cases involving the right to keep and bear arms. In 2012, Louisiana became the first state to do so when voters approved a referred constitutional amendment.

The amendment language read:

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 duly adjudged mentally infirm by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Also notable of the Missouri amendment is the inclusion of firearm “accessories” within the scope of the amendment. This provides clear guidance for courts when evaluating certain gun-control measures, such as bans on standard capacity magazines. The Missouri amendment emphasizes the intent of the people to protect all of the necessary parts of a modern, functional firearm.

Strict scrutiny is the most stringent standard of review used by U.S. courts when a law burdens constitutionally protected conduct. By requiring strict scrutiny in their constitutional provision, the people of Missouri have ensured that Missouri courts will give gun-control measures the most intensive review available and require the state to meet the highest possible threshold in justifying firearm regulation.

While 44 states have at least some state-specific protection for the right to keep and bear arms, six don’t: California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.

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