Missouri Ballot Initiative Pays Off

Court Gavel

Ballot initiatives are risky things. In the end, Missouri’s gamble on strengthening their constitutional protection for the right to keep and bear arms paid off with a final result of 61%-39%.

However, that still shows that upwards of 40% of the voters in a primary election in what is perceived to be a red state were opposed to protecting the right to bear arms.

Ballotpedia notes that the new amendment makes the following changes:

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; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons. The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable. Any restriction on these rights shall be subject 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 rights of convicted violent felons or those duly adjudged mentally infirm by a court of competent jurisdiction.

According to their late July tallies of spending by advocates and opponents, Bloomberg’s new group alone spent more than the pro-gun side, but still lost.

27 thoughts on “Missouri Ballot Initiative Pays Off”

  1. In fairness, that does seem like a poorly worded amendment. Better to have just deleted the concealed weapons portion of the original provision than to say that the right is unalienable except in certain circumstances where it is not unalienable.

    1. Sorry, but that’s wildly, 100% wrong. No pro-RKBA lawyer would agree with you.

      Courts DO NOT look at language like “shall not be infringed,” “shall not be questioned,” or “unalienable” and go “oh, I guess no sort of regulation is permitted at all.” That’s a harmful myth.

      Courts are ALWAYS going to apply some level of “constitutional scrutiny” to claims that the right has been violated. Which means some types of regulations may be allowed. It’s how lawyers are trained. And if you don’t specify strict scrutiny, history shows overwhelmingly that courts are going to use nothingburger standards like “reasonable regulation” or the faux “intermediate scrutiny” the fed courts are using. And then they uphold practically every restriction. That is demonstrably what happens, time and again.

      The strict scrutiny requirement is not poorly worded in the slightest. Ask any lawyer: that is the most important, and strongest pro-RKBA thing of the whole amendment.

      1. Well, as a pro-RKBA lawyer (waiting anxiously on bar results), if language isn’t meant to have some kind of effect, it shouldn’t be included. Subjecting the RKBA under the Missouri constitution to strict scrutiny is great, but that doesn’t excuse purposefully including ambiguous or contradictory language.

        That’s just poor drafting.

        Look at the four justices who have cited the prefatory clause as an excuse to hold that the Second Amendment protects only a collective right and tell me again about how courts don’t look at extraneous language.

        1. Fair point. (I was rewriting my comment above to make it a little less sharp, but it timed out.)

          I think the MO Legislature was using “inalienable” roughly as a synonym for “fundamental,” but fundamental is clearer, for the reasons you suggest.

      2. The strict scrutiny requirement is not poorly worded in the slightest. Ask any lawyer: that is the most important, and strongest pro-RKBA thing of the whole amendment.

        Unfortunately, that would be “any lawyer who’s not aware that our higher level judges are appointed through the Missouri Plan.” No matter how conservative the Governor, he’s handed an unpalatable set of possibilities, and adding that strict scrutiny language to our Constitution is pointless as of now. Our recent attempt to fix this was zapped by perverse ballot language chosen by our Democratic Secretary of State (apropos of my earlier posting in this topic, today every statewide office is held by a Democrat except for Lieutenant Governor and State Auditor).

        In our domain, a recent example is how our appeals courts have nullified our crystal clear statutory “strong” Castle Doctrine (that you can assume an intruder in your dwelling is armed and life threateningly dangerous, and not have to get shot determining it before using lethal force, vs. what I call the “weak” Castle Doctrine, no duty to retreat from your dwelling), through required jury instructions. See any edition of Vilos’ Self Defense Laws of All 50 States (highly recommended).

  2. Re “almost 40%”:

    Yeah, but seriously, look at that language, this is an amazingly strong RKBA provision. Goes beyond even Louisiana because it’s so explicit.

    It expressly guards against AWBs (all restrictions on normal firearm “accessories” get strict scrutiny). It allows (even invites) challenges to felon-in-possession laws as applied to nonviolent felons. That is a big bridge to cross in terms of political optics, and Missouri decisively crossed it.

    I think it’s satisfying that this won by over 20 points in a midwestern state with two large, very liberal urban centeres, a Dem governor, and a well organized Dem machine. One map I saw even indicated that the measure was leading early in Jackson County — that is KC’s urban core. Would love to know how that shook out.

    1. It had those margins in an off-year primary election in a red state. Imagine what Bloomberg could fund in opposition in a presidential election during the general election with many more low information voters hitting the polls. Don’t think I’m being unreasonably cynical just to be cynical.

      1. Not sure I’d call Missouri a Red state, it seems a bit more Purple than my old stomping grounds of Arizona.

        Now to be fair, my former town was one of the reddest areas of a deep Red state, so maybe that’s it.

        1. Obama lost by double digits, so it’s pretty comfortably red. The only reason the Senate seat went blue was because the Republican decided to educate the public on his own views of the female reproductive system. I didn’t follow the Governor’s race closely, but the GOP candidate had never held elected office before in his life. I’d say it’s pretty close to red.

          1. Ummm, no, Bitter, the state I was born and raised in, and have retired to, is thoroughly Purple. Democrats are quite competitive, and Obama lost by a razor thin 0.14%, 4,000 vote margin in 2008. Our Democratic and anti-gun Governor moved to that from Attorney General in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012 by a 12 point margin. He is rather conservative by national standards, though, e.g. in preemptively laying off state employees we can’t afford in the Great Recession.

            Everything P.M. notes in the beginning of this thread is correct, our two huge and very liberal urban areas are a massive counterweight to the rest of the state, and the Democratic machine is very good at getting out the leftist vote in the rest of the state, that’s how our Democratic Senator first got elected (reelection hinged on her picking her opponent).

            When concealed carry was put to an initiative like this one, it lost; a decade ago the legislature then ignored that and passed a very strict one with a “compromise” minimum age of 23, highest in the nation. It’s now 21, and if the legislature overrides a veto by our governor it’ll be 19.

      2. 1. This was one of a number of ballot initiatives up this year. Bloomberg spent alot, but getting FAR FAR FAR more attention in the state was the “Right to Farm” amendment. That was a direct response to HSUS sneaking through a ban on dog breeders and attempts to destroy agriculture. It was heavily debated and had a ton of money come in. It eventually passed, but with slightly less than a 1% margin of victory so it goes to a run off. Had that not been on the ballot, I assume a significant number of urban and suburban voters wouldn’t have been voting at all – and the margin would be even greater on this.

        2. As others have pointed out, Missouri is very much a purple state, not unlike Pennsylvania. It is incredibly rural in the vast center of the state, but bookeneded by old large well developed urban centers – Kansas City and St Louis. St. Louis is a union hotbed, and is one of the more reliably democrat centers around. Kansas City, while more conservative, houses a significant number of federal government employees as well as arts, media, etc. Its not as reliably democratic as St. Louis, but is hardly conservative. And yes, both the Governor and the Attorney General are Democrats.

  3. I too wonder if the last sentence threw off some of the pro rights side? I understand in our current political climate you need that, but under the right circumstances it can be horribly abused.

  4. They’ve come along way from 1999 when they voted down the prop B concealed carry law by 52% to 48%. If this state keeps trending red like it has for the past 6 years you want have to worry about gun rights in Missouri.

  5. Any corporation or person that provides services to or on behalf of this state and violates the prohibitions of Section 2 of this act shall be forever ineligible to act on behalf of, or provide services to, this state or any political subdivision of this state.

    Hmmm…. I like that part!

    EDIT: Whoops… thats part of the model ordinance, not part of this law. Oh Well

  6. “Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those duly adjudged mentally infirm by a court of competent jurisdiction.”

    Too bad no one seems capable of drafting a good amendment without throwing in some weasel-words, just in case an Achille’s Heel is needed in the future.

    1. Man, if you think that is weasel words nothing is going to satisfy you.

      Hint: It could have just said “convicted felons” instead of “violent felons” and it could have just said “those mentally infirm or dangerous” instead of requiring a court order with due process.

      Opponents could and did argue “this will allow felons to have guns!” because the Missouri Legislature DID NOT indulge in weasel words. They compromised incredibily little.

      How about we take a huge win when it happens.

  7. Not much you can do about the 40%; there’s St. Louis and Kansas City, urban cancers in an otherwise beautiful, intelligent state.

  8. Aside from the legalese thrown in toward the end, just striking the concealed carry line and making mention of ammunition and accessories seems like a huge victory to me. What it shows me is there is a lot more support for the customization of guns, even when such customization results in a “weapon of war”. Clearly the public isn’t buying the crap Bloomberg and his cronies are shoveling, and they just showed it.

  9. Chop NYC and Long Island off of New York state – take Jersey City and Newark out of NJ – and you have 2 of the reddest states in the country.

    The difference between a Red and Blue state is only a few percent. The vote would have lost by a smaller margin in NJ or MA.

    That’s why Obama is so anxious to legalize millions of unskilled illegal immigrants. They will tip the scales in future elections.

    1. Don’t give my home state too much credit. Take a look at the last couple gubernatorial and US senate results for NY. Upstate may have a lot of conservative tendencies but generally speaking if there’s a liberal incumbent that is well-liked they will gladly keep them in office (i.e. Schumer). Even with all the SAFE act backlash I have no doubt that nothing short of Cuomo doing a controlled demolition of the Statute of Liberty would his re-election chances be in doubt, and I can guarantee you at least a decent amount of upstate counties will inexplicably go his way.

      Agree with your last point though.

    2. I’m sorry, but that’s bullcrap (even worse its irrational drivel that if the conservative spewing it could see past their noses, would realize hurts them at the polls as much as the continual need to demand Republican candidates swear afinity to pledges to ban abortion or their fetish with gay sex)

      That’s what folks said when my Italian grandparents emmigrated to the US. Italian Americans are hardly reliable left wing votes (well, they are when they live in NY, but that has nothing to do with being Italian).

      They said the same thing about Germans (hell, they even put prohibition in place).
      They said the same thing about Poles.
      They said the same thing about Mexicans back in the 20s and 30s (and enacted the War on Pot that has destroyed the 4th Amendment and wastes untold billions every year).
      They said the same thing about every immigrant group (and of course, none of the people saying it tend to be Native Americans – hence they were all immigrants at one point or another).

      Here’s where this asinine line of comments falls apart: People will vote in their best interest. If your at the bottom of the barrel (or the top), of course your likely to vote for a Democrat who is going to micromanage the economy to the benefit of their friends who don’t mind helping to pay you off through welfare etc to get your votes.

      But immigrants to this country dont come here to suck at the teat of public welfare. They are hard working and industrious. And are always leaving countries destroyed by aggressive left wing thugs. The immigrants want to work and better themselves, and are always looking for opportunity to create wealth and businesses. Immigrants have ALWAYS been the leading edge of US entrepenurialism. Know what that translates into, a generation out: fairly reliable pro free market voters (which aren’t kukoo “anti liberty” religious conservatives – but I’ll take that anyday over a crazy conservative who more concernred with my sex life, or how someone chooses to relax in their home).

      But here’s the thing about hispanic immigrants – and that just exposes this conservative line of thinking as being utterly and totally brain dead. They are nearly ALL, strict catholics. I live in DC, the biggest traffic jams around here (and we have traffic you won’t believe) ALWAYS occurr on Sunday’s near catholic churches as every single latino stops what they are doing to go to church. In droves. And guess what, they are 90+% pro life. Why? Because they are EXTREMELY religious.

      Now, abortion ain’t my issue. But it seems to me that the people screaming the most about immigrants are the ones who tend to complain the most about abortion. Hmm, wouldn’t your side like a massive boost of voting power? And shouldn’t we be ENCOURAGING hard industrious work here?

      The problem is, folks don’t think. They react the the shysters and hucksters out there, and don’t realize that these issues are about short term campaigns – to save a politician now, with zero regard to what happens next year, or next decade.

      1. I will refer you to VDH and his many articles about California’s collapse into a welfare sate catering to Latino immigrants in return for a permanent Democratic majority. I grew up in MA where Irish and Italian immigrants to the Boston area took the state from deep red to deep blue and kept it there.

        Your Italian grandparents didn’t expect government aid because it didn’t exist (same with my Welsh great grandparents)- and if they weren’t able-bodied they would have been shipped right back to Italy.

        I’m a libertarian, not Republican, take down thee welfare state and we can talk about more immigration, until then no thanks.

  10. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those duly adjudged mentally infirm by a court of competent jurisdiction.

    That leaves open doors for deep background checks and the like. If you got a few justices who think a psych exam is not a bridge too far, it’ll pass muster as narrow and targeted under strict scrutiny. I saw someone write that “Four Scalias” ends abortion, and “Four Ginsbergs” ends the Second Amendment. True words.

    This is a big win, but certainly nothing is bulletproof. It will always require people power to keep deniers back.

  11. So, by what I read in this Amendment, does this mean that the Missouri State Gov’t has Preemption over Local Gun Laws?

  12. If James Brady weren’t already dead, this would surely make him catatonic.

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