Chesterfield Grants Citizens the Right to Protect Home from Intruders… Except For Squirrels

Chesterfield, Missouri is proposing a new ordinance that will prevent citizens from shooting pellet guns at nuisance animals like squirrels. Resident Gene Schenberg says the proposed law breaks the Missouri State Constitution.
Local FOX 2 reported:

The Chesterfield City Council is proposing a new ordinance, many say violates the Missouri Constitution.

The issue boils down to the right to protect property, but the question is protect it from what?

Chesterfield officials say you have the right to protect yourself or your land from an intruder, but if that intruder is an animal, then they want residents to think again.

Gene Schenberg’s Chesterfield home is under siege. Squirrels are claiming their territory and damaging his property.

But nothing worked, until Schenberg bought a pellet gun. “It is extremely accurate and it`s a little tiny pellet,” said Schenberg. But his tactics triggered concern from a nearby neighbor.

Now the Chesterfield City Council is proposing an ordinance that would prevent Schenberg from shooting the squirrels and protecting his property.

“That is a right granted by the Missouri Constitution and it cannot be taken away by a local government for any reason,” said Schenberg.

Attorney Dave Roland says Schenberg is right. “Article 1 Section 23 of the Missouri Constritution speciafically says the right of every citizen to bear arms in defense of their homes, person or property shall not be questioned,” said Roland.

Roland is the Director of Litigation for the Non-Partisan Freedom Center of Missouri. He says if the city of Chesterfield wants to restrict firearms they need to re-work the bill’s language.

“If the bills language was framed as we don’t want hunting in our city limits that might survive judicial scrutiny,” said Roland.

Chesterfield police say the proposal is meant to protect citizens.

Captain Steven Lewis said,”You are still protected by the Castle doctrine. You are able to protect your life and property under state law, our city ordinace will still support that however; we are trying to make sure people aren’t firing weapons in residential areas.”

Schenberg hasn’t seen a squirrel since October. He also doesn’t want to see the day his constitutional rights are violated.

Hat Tip Ed

UPDATE: (Wednesday AM) This came from Attorney Dave Rolandin last night:

Hey Jim,

Just wanted to offer a clarification to your blog post about the Chesterfield Firearms Ordinance. The Chesterfield police officer was dead wrong. The ordinance does not differentiate between shooting at squirrels or shooting at humans. It preserves the right to use a firearm in defense of human live or livestock, but it explicitly prohibits using a firearm in defense of crops or other property. Chesterfield’s City Attorney circulated a memo (see page 2 of the attached document) specifically stating that it would prohibit the use of a firearm in defense of one’s home. Even where the ordinance makes reference to the state’s Castle Doctrine statute, it ONLY references the part about defending one’s person from attack – it leaves out the part about defending one’s property. Based on the City’s own documents, the City’s current explanation of the ordinance is misleading at best, and at worst is an outright lie.

Respectfully,
Dave Roland
Director of Litigation
Freedom Center of Missouri

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