Amendment 5 passes: Right to bear arms 'unalienable'

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 | 12:07 a.m. CDT

With the passage of Amendment 5 on Tuesday, the right to bear arms is now an unalienable right according to the state constitution. The amendment passed with 61 percent of the statewide vote.

The final vote totals were 602,076 in favor and 385,422 opposed. The amendment was not favored in Boone County, where 14,546 or 53.3 percent of voters opposed, and 12,745 or 46.7 percent approved. St. Louis and Kansas City overwhelmingly voted against the amendment.

BALLOT: Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is a unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right?

REACTION: In a previous interview with the Missourian, Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight said the amendment was "completely unnecessary." He said that while he supports the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms, he was adamantly opposed to Amendment 5.

"If Amendment 5 passes, criminals will benefit and law-abiding citizens will suffer," Knight had said. "Our community will be less safe."

Knight was also concerned that the amendment would result in increased litigation, which his office would have to address.

IMPACT: The ballot language stated that no direct costs or savings were anticipated for state and local governments, but said voter approval would likely increase costs due to litigation and related costs for the justice system: "The total potential costs are unknown, but could be significant."

Although not included in the ballot language, the amendment also does two key things besides making the right to bear arms unalienable. The amendment adds ammunition and accessories as protected under the law, and it also removes a clause that says the law doesn't justify the wearing of concealed weapons.

"It's going to add litigation. It's going to add costs to our system. It's going to add delays to other cases," Columbia Attorney Scott Wilson said. "The problem with amending the constitution is you don't have any idea just what the future effect will be."

AT ISSUE: Supporters of the amendment say it's necessary to strengthen gun rights in light of perceived pressure from the federal government. State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, introduced the amendment in February because he thinks the constitution needs to be updated due to two U.S. Supreme Court cases that affirm gun rights.

Opponents said the amendment is unnecessary because the state and U.S. Constitutions already protect the right to bear arms. They're also concerned that the amendment will be used to grant felons access to firearms, as was the case in Louisiana, which passed a similar amendment.

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