Amendment Five which would make the right to keep and bear arms “unalienable” in the state of Missouri was adopted by a two to one margin yesterday. It was one of a handful of constitutional amendments on the ballot in Missouri during yesterday’s primary election. Other amendments considered dealt with a transportation tax, a guaranteed right to farming, electronic privacy, and a veterans lottery ticket to fund veterans’ services.
Amendment Five which will become Section 23, Article I of the Missouri Constitution does a number of things. First, it extended the right to keep and bear arms to include ammunition and accessories. Second, and in my opinion the most important part of this amendment, it subjects any restriction on the right to keep and bear arms to strict scrutiny. Third, it obligates the government of the state of Missouri to uphold these rights and not to decline to protect them from infringement. Finally, it makes clear that this amendment does not prevent the legislature from restricting the rights of convicted violent felons and those adjudicated mentally ill.
Amendment Five also removed that portion of the previous Section 23 that said the right to keep and bear arms “shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.”
If one listened to the opponents of Amendment Five, it was going to lead to blood in the streets and a bankrupt government. Particularly amusing were the cost figures submitted by former state budget official Mark Reading whose work was funded by Everytown for Gun Safety.
Reading projected the proposal could cost state and local governments $244 million, including $115 million for additional security at state-owned buildings and $54 million for school police officers to protect people from an assumed increase in gun violence. He also projected a $71 million loss in state and local tax revenues if tourists boycott Missouri because of its pro-gun constitution.
These numbers were rightly deemed “ridiculous” by Deputy State Auditor Harry Otto. I just don’t imagine a lot of residents of the Bay Area or New York City are traveling to St. Louis to see the Arch and partake in riverboat gambling.
The final vote in favor of Amendment Five was 602,076 (61%) with 385,422 (31%) opposed.