Anti-gunners aim at Missouri preemption law

Anti-gunners aim at Missouri preemption law
Townhall Media

There’s a new push underway in Missouri to undo the state’s firearm preemption laws and allow counties and the city of St. Louis to impose their own restrictions on legal gun owners; not through legislation (which is likely to go nowhere in the GOP-controlled legislature) but through a voter referendum, which would only require a simple majority of voters to undo this critically important protection for the right to keep and bear arms.


The ballot referendum effort is still in the early stages, but the group Sensible Missouri is planning on putting the preemption repeal before voters in November, 2024. Details on the exact language have also not been released, but organizers are already trying to assure gun owners and Second Amendment supporters that their intentions are “reasonable”.

“We believe this is an important step toward reducing firearms violence” in urban areas, said Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “It’s important to permit counties to fashion regulations to meet their needs, and county needs are not the same across the state.”

Rosenfeld said the proposed amendment wouldn’t specify what local rules could be considered. But one likely possibility, he said, would be requiring local-level permits and training to carry a concealed gun.

“Among other things, it would enable police officers to confiscate guns from persons (if they) do not have a lawful permit to carry the firearm,” Rosenfeld said.

… Working with Rosenfeld on the petition effort is Jimmie Edwards, a former St. Louis circuit judge and public safety director, and former state Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City.

Rosenfeld and Edwards said a final decision on the petition drive will hinge on a statewide poll they plan to run this summer and whether it shows “a decent chance of passage.”

To get on the ballot, petitioners would need valid signatures from more than 171,000 registered voters in Missouri.

… In addition to requiring permits, Rosenfeld and Edwards said, localities also could consider age restrictions for the carrying of guns and expanding the list of places guns aren’t allowed.

The two emphasized, however, that their proposal wouldn’t allow local governments to do things such as ban private gun ownership or repeal state laws allowing people to use firearms to defend themselves and their homes.


Oh, so the ballot measure won’t allow for two things that are clearly not allowed under the Constitution to begin with? Well that’s a relief. But if the proposed amendment to the state constitution won’t specify what local rules could be considered, as Rosenfeld claims, then that opens the door for other infringements, including putting public places off-limits to lawful gun owners and the age-based gun ban that the pair concede would be a strong possibility in cities like St. Louis.

If this referendum were to be enacted, I doubt that the St. Louis city council would be able to restrain themselves from passing all kinds of ordinances that could easily ensnare responsible gun owners, who aren’t the ones driving violent crime in the city in the first place. One of the main reasons that so many states have firearms preemption laws is to provide for a uniform body of gun laws that gun owners can know and follow, but if this referendum were to become law there could easily be more than a dozen variations of gun control ordinances just in the greater St. Louis area alone. You could violate the law without knowing it just by driving a block or two in any given direction, and while the referendum’s backers may see that as a feature and not a bug of their proposal, gun owners know better.

Instead of a referendum that would undoubtably end up infringing on the fundamental rights of Missouri residents, how about the city council address the 20% shortfall in the number of uniformed officers or the cratering St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office, which has been plagued not only by prosecutor Kim Gardner’s soft-on-crime policies but the departure of many veteran attorneys in the office, which has led to delays in some criminal cases because there are no prosecutors in the courtroom when the defendant shows up.

Gardner has faced escalating criticism in recent months. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, a Republican, is seeking to remove Gardner from office. Bailey alleges that too many cases, including homicides, have gone unpunished, that victims and their families are left uninformed, and that the prosecutor’s office is too slow to take on cases brought by police.

Criticism of Gardner escalated earlier this year after 17-year-old Janae Edmondson, a volleyball standout from Tennessee, was struck by a speeding car after a tournament game in downtown St. Louis. She lost both legs. The driver, 21-year-old Daniel Riley, was out on bond on a robbery charge despite nearly 100 bond violations that included letting his GPS monitor die and breaking the terms of his house arrest, according to court records. Critics questioned why Riley was free despite so many bond violations.

The folks behind Sensible Missouri want to punish responsible gun owners instead of the failed leadership in St. Louis. That may be par for the course for the anti-gun left, but there’s no guarantee that the rest of the state is willing to go along with their delusions and deflections from the real problem.

Under the state’s current referendum process a simply majority is all that’s needed to change the state constitution, but even that looks to be a stretch for the gun grabbers in the Show Me State. Last year then-Attorney General Eric Schmitt handily won election to the U.S. Senate in a statewide race, garnering 55.4% of the vote in the process. In fact, a Democrat hasn’t won a statewide election in Missouri in over a decade, and while that’s not a perfect analogue to how an anti-gun initiative might fare on the ballot next fall it’s still a strong indication that any attempt to undo the state’s preemption law is going to be an uphill battle for the anti-gun forces in the state.



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