Missouri voters will make a decision tomorrow regarding Amendment 5 which reads: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms in an unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right?”

Click to hear supporter 39th District State Representative Joe Don McGaugh:

Joe Don McGaugh

Click here to hear opposition with Democratic State Representative Stacey Newman:

Stacey Newman

Newman talked about why she is taking a firm stance against Amendment 5.  “The bill drafters did not put into the proposed language that voters will see on the ballot exactly the impact of this,” said Newman,” It will basically increase gun rights for criminals.  Prosecutors are extremely worried that this amendment , if ratified by the voters, will increase gun rights for criminals.  They’re concerned this will allow, through litigation, drug dealers and gang members to carry deadly weapons on our streets.  It would allow domestic violence offenders to continue to possess deadly weapons.”

Representative Newman said it’s the word unalienable that’s causing her opposition to the measure.  “You know, in face value you’re going to say, sure, we should have the right to keep and bear arms,” said Newman,” Well, we already do and it’s already in our state constitution, as well as the U.S. constitution.  What is missing from this ballot language is the unintended consequences.  The word there that was purposely inserted is unalienable right.  This is going to, if passed, increase the litigation cost through prosecution offices throughout the state.  You are a criminal and booked on a gun crime, this will imply that we must do strict scrutiny which is a different type of looking at a gun statute.  Any criminal then will be able to contest to any gun law we currently have on the books that the majority of people believe we need.”

McGaugh explained the ideas behind the proposed amendment from the supporters’ point of view. “Basically, what we’re trying to do is mirror the second amendment to the United States constitution in that the right to bear arms will be an unalienable right  ,” said McGaugh, “Right now, in the Missouri state constitution,  it’s not considered an unalienable or God-given right; therefore, the scrutiny that’s given any law that would restrict gun ownership through the courts is at a different level than a strict-scrutiny basis which is  practiced on the federal level.  So, basically this would take the level of scrutiny for laws that limit gun ownership or the right to bear arms and the government would have to prove that they have a compelling governmental interest in restricting gun gun ownership rather than just an important governmental interest.”

McGaugh encouraged constituents in his district to cast their votes on Tuesday.  “I think there is a reason why the 2nd amendment to the U. S. constitution is the right to bear arms because it is a God-given right to protect yourself and your family,” said McGaugh, “I think it should be compelling governmental interest for them to limit gun ownership, so that’s basically what we’re trying to do is mirror federal law in the state of Missouri.  Anytime we can strengthen our rights for law-abiding citizens to have firearms and to use those firearms to protect themselves and their families, I’m going to support that.”