Anti-gunners aim to enshrine gun control in Missouri's constitution

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

More than 40 states across the nation have firearm preemption laws in place that allow for the state legislature to create a uniform body of gun laws and forbids political subdivisions from imposing their own local gun control ordinances. This does not sit well with the gun prohibition crowd, who love the idea of a patchwork-quilt of local ordinances that are difficult (if not impossible) for gun owners to follow, especially in urban areas and the suburban sprawl that surrounds them. Anti-gun Democrats have already undone Colorado’s preemption law though legislation, and blue-city mayors in Cincinnati and Columbus are trying to get the courts to toss out Ohio’s preemption law despite the state Supreme Court previously upholding the statute.


In Missouri, activists are trying another route to repeal preemption: a ballot initiative that would change the state constitution and negate the existing preemption law.

A former judge, state lawmaker and criminologist filed initiative petitions on Wednesday that would amend Missouri’s Constitution to allow St. Louis and other local governments to adopt their own gun policies.

“The use of guns for hunting in rural Missouri is very different than the use of guns in urban areas,” Rick Rosenfeld, a retired University of Missouri—St. Louis criminology professor, said in a statement.

… Two proposals by Sensible Missouri would give St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City and Jackson County the power to impose local gun rules. Another petition would allow any local government to adopt gun regulations if approved by local voters.

Missouri lawmakers passed a law in 2014 preventing cities and counties from enacting any gun policies.

Sensible Missouri would work around that law by restoring local governments’ right to act on firearms through the state constitution, which also would make it harder for state lawmakers to undo.

In order to get on the ballot the anti-gun groups needs to collect around 171,000 valid signatures between now and next May. If organizers concentrate their signature-gathering efforts on St. Louis and Kansas City they might be able to get their petition on the ballot in 2024, but based on the state’s statewide elections over the past few cycles I think they’re gonna face an uphill battle with voters.


There were only two statewide races on the ballot in Missouri last year, but Republicans won both of them handily, with Attorney General Eric Schmitt winning the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs over Democratic candidate Trudy Busch Valentine by a 55-42 margin and Scott Fitzpatrick trouncing his Democratic opponent by 22 points in the race for State Auditor. Republicans hold every statewide office, both U.S. Senate seats, and a majority of both chambers of the state legislature. Even though the anti-gunners would only need a bare majority to repeal the state’s preemption law via a ballot initiative, they’d still have to outperform Democratic turnout by hundreds of thousands of votes in a presidential election year where conservative turnout is expected to be strong. In 2020 Donald Trump won the state over Biden 57-41, with a raw vote total of 1,718,736 compared to Biden’s 1,253,014.

Can the gun control fans behind “Sensible Missouri” really convince 500,000 GOP voters to cross over and vote to allow cities to impose gun and magazine bans, negate the state’s Constitutional Carry law, and other restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms? I don’t think so, but Second Amendment supporters should still be taking steps to push back on this ballot initiative if the organizers do manage to collect enough valid signatures to put the issue before voters. If these proposals are on the ballot next year gun control groups will be flooding the state with millions of dollars in support, and gun owners can’t take their rights for granted or blithely assume they’ll be victorious on Election Day. The odds aren’t with the anti-gunners here, but we still need to take the threat to our right to keep and bear arms seriously.


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