Missourians to Vote on Constitutional Guarantees for Gun Ownership, Farming and Email Privacy
Missouri voters will be presented with five – count ‘em, five – proposed amendments for the state constitution when they go to the polls in early August.
Three of the amendments deal with individual rights: to own guns, to farm, and to have electronic communications protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.
The other two proposed constitutional changes deal with a “temporary” tax increase for roads and creating a new lottery ticket to fund services and projects for military veterans.
The most controversial amendment will likely be the one to strengthen Missouri’s gun ownership rights.
While Missourians, like all Americans, already have a constitutional right to bear arms, the proposed amendment “would change the wording to say citizens have the right to ‘keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms,’” Lake News Online reports.
The news site continues:
The amendment would also clarify that citizens could use those arms to defend their families. Currently, the constitution reads that citizens can use arms in the defense of home, person, or property, but does not specifically include family.
The amendment goes on to spell out that the gun rights would 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,” the amendment reads.
However, the amendment would allow lawmakers to “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.”
Republican state Sen. Kurt Schaefer describes this effort as a way to protect Missourians from “anti-gun politicians in Washington D.C.”
“The erosion of even one constitutional liberty signals the vulnerability of them all,” Schaefer writes in a recent newsletter to constituents. “This measure is about drawing a line in the sand and making it clear that in Missouri, we will do everything in our power to safeguard the freedoms we have enjoyed since the creation of this country.”
Far less controversial is the proposed amendment to establish privacy rights for Missourians’ electronic communications.
If approved by voters, the measure would add “electronic communications and data” to the list of things that are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Currently, a person’s body, home, papers and effects are given that protection under the state constitution – as well as under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The most interesting amendment is the one that would ensure individuals have the right to “engage in agricultural production and ranching practices.”
Republican Rep. Bill Reiboldt says the language is needed because “out-of-state, well-funded animal rights groups” are trying to disrupt Missouri’s agriculture, the state’s number one industry.
“They want to make all kinds of regulations that are impossible to keep,” Reiboldt tells Lake News Online. “The goal is to get a head’s up on them and make farming a constitutional right.”
As if proving the lawmaker’s point, Jared Goodman, a representative for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), calls the proposed amendment “the legislature’s attempt to constitutionalize a right to abuse animals on farms and destroy the environment.”
It’s shaping up to be a politically charged summer in Missouri.
Residents who can’t tolerate political commercials may want to give up TV and radio until the August 5 primary, at least.