The Secretary of State played a major role in the process as the proposed amendment language had to be concise and was limited to a certain number of words. This is the language voters will see when they go to the polls:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is an unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right?
If this amendment is approved by voters it would amend Section 23 of Article 1 of the Missouri Constitution to read as follows:
Section 23. 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 restrictions on these rights shall be subjected 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 right of convicted, violent felons or those duly adjudged mentally infirm by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Basically what this means is that Amendment #5 would establish the freedom to keep and bear arms as an unalienable, natural right in Missouri, unable to easily be taken away. Furthermore, it would add ammunition and accessories to the items people have a right to keep. Unless ammunition is also protected, the use of a firearm can be limited or even useless. The amendment would add “family” to those the firearm owner has the right to defend. The “strict scrutiny” portion of the proposal would hold any restrictions on gun rights to the highest level of judicial review. This still gives the General Assembly the right to enact any needed future law to limit convicted felons or the mentally ill from legally obtaining guns. If passed, this amendment would make a strong statement that in Missouri state government will do everything in its power to guarantee its citizens the freedom to keep and bear arms, and it will make Missouri among the strongest of any state in the nation in preserving these rights. However, Amendment #5 would not have any bearing on federal gun laws, because the state of Missouri (or any other state) does not have the right to invalidate those laws.
Opponents, which include the St. Louis Chief of Police and St. Louis and Kansas City prosecutors and anti-gun activists, filed a lawsuit, claiming that the measure would make it harder to regulate guns and violent criminals in our state. They also charged that the wording of the ballot language was insufficient and unfair and asked the judge to rewrite the language or send it back to the Legislature. The suit was dismissed by the judge, and the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the judge’s ruling.
Supporters of Amendment #5 see a real threat in our nation of limiting gun ownership—or even the worse case scenario—future confiscation of our firearms and ammunition. They say it is necessary now to strengthen our already guaranteed 2nd Amendment rights. Amendment #5 is not an attempt to protect the criminals or to put guns in the hands of the mentally unstable. It is an attempt to limit or ward off federal encroachment of gun rights in Missouri. It is about protecting law-abiding citizens and preserving the hard-earned and unalienable rights conferred on them by the U.S. Constitution.
Now it is up to Missouri’s citizens to determine the outcome of these amendments. Please further educate yourselves on these and the other issues you will be deciding, and on August 5th, as knowledgeable voters, exercise your right and privilege by going to the polls and voting.