Court Enforces Constitutional Right to Arms, This Time For a Non-Violent Felon

By Dean Weingarten

RaymondRobertson
Court Enforces Constitutional Right to Arms, This Time For a Non-Violent Felon
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- A St. Louis Judge has ruled that Missouri's tough new protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not just a paper tiger.

In the first ruling of its kind, the court ruled that a person cannot be prohibited from the right to keep and bear arms under Missouri statutes, for a non-violent felony.

From stltoday.com:

St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert Dierker ruled that the Missouri law prohibiting felons from possessing guns is unconstitutional as applied in the case of Raymond Robinson, in part because it fails to differentiate between violent and non-violent felons.

The amendment declares the right to keep and bear arms “unalienable” and subjects laws restricting gun rights to “strict scrutiny.”

Dierker limited his decision to the circumstances of Robinson’s situation; it is not binding on other cases. It also has no effect on a federal law prohibiting felons from possession guns.

I have read Judge Dierker's opinion.  It is exceptionally well done.  The logic is clear and the issues are well defined.  Mr. Robinson had been convicted of a felony over 10 years ago, in 2003.  The conviction was for a non-violent crime;  ironically, for illegal carry of a firearm.  As Missouri's shall issue law did not become effective before September of 2003, and it takes some time to process permits, Mr. Robinson could not have obtained a permit to carry the firearm at the time of his conviction.

The Missouri constitution is now clear.  Judges are not allowed wiggle room to declare that a right only applies in a few rare circumstances, or that some fuzzy state purpose overrides the right.  Here is the amendment that passed last year.

From komo.com:

“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 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 adjudicated by a court to be a danger to self or others as result of a mental disorder or mental infirmity.

The sponsor of the legislation is quoted in the St. Louis Today article as saying:

But he insisted that allowing felons to automatically have possession of firearms was not “the intent or legal effect of Amendment 5.”

I suspect that Senator Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, is being precise and truthful.  The intent and effect of the amendment does not automatically allow felons to have possession  of firearms.   It makes a significant differentiation, between violent felons and non-violent felons.   This is a crucial distinction that seems lost on the writer of the article in St. Louis Today, Alex Stuckey.

There has long been a creeping movement to make more and more minor crimes into felonies.  Carrying a gun, a right protected under the Constitution, is hardly a good reason to take away the constitutional right.

Here is a link to the pdf file of the judges opinion.   It is through the St. Louis Today web site, so I do not know how long it will be available.  The case number is 1422-CR02936-01, and it is in the twenty second circuit court in St. Louis.

Many people have said that these sort of constitutional amendments do not strengthen the right to keep and bear arms. This case shows that in Missouri, it did just that.

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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    T. M.ArmandoTODD P.Daviddennis Hartman Recent comment authors
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    T. M.
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    T. M.

    wish you could post “constitutional rights” in an posted area each issue, so that items can be reviewed almost daily if necessary so that citizens become better educated, even to the extent that they could be printed out, or given out by “snail mail” if requested.

    Armando
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    Armando

    I agree, I can only speak for myself, I was convicted in 1995 of conspiracy to receive a kick back (non violent felony) never set foot in a jail. Since then I’ve never broker a law before or after my conviction, I graduated from college I own my own company and employ people, I have a beautiful family and I have never hurt anyone before or after my conviction. It really frustrates for me that I cannot buy a rifle to take my kids hunting or even take them to a gun range, its so frustrating, I hope the Gun… Read more »

    TODD P.
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    TODD P.

    I think we finally are making some head way here, as far as Pro- Gun laws go. I’ve read numerous wins in our corner from many different states. Yes their are defeats to, but we are winning the big ones. And that is Constitutional Carry for me, if you can purchase a handgun then you should be able to carry it. I advise lots of training and time sending lead down range if your new to firearms. However I truly believe most people that are going to buy weapons for self defense, don’t want to hit an innocent bystander. And… Read more »

    David
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    David

    It is about time this has happened. Once a person serves a sentence for a crime all rights should be given back.
    Yes there are some out there that should never be able to have a firearm ,knife etc in ones possession. That is what sentencing guide lines are for. If a person can not be mentally trusted then either lock them up for life and a day or give them a shot that puts them to sleep forever.

    dennis Hartman
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    dennis Hartman

    I am glad to see there are some who know and uderstand the constitution. These rights are unailiable, granted by God and not to be comprimised by men. An armed public is the only defence against tyrantecal government of which ours is becoming more by the minute. The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. Look up infringed if you do not know the meaning, it has been happening for a long time and must be stoped if we are to remain free.