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Senator: Right to bear arms unalienable

Senator: Right to bear arms unalienable

Schaefer renews effort to modify state Constitution's right to bear arms language

February 11th, 2014 in News

Just like the U.S. Constitution, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer told the Senate's Judiciary Committee Monday night, the state Constitution protects Missourians' right to bear arms.

But that right needs to be strengthened, he said.

So the Columbia Republican wants lawmakers to put a proposed constitutional amendment onto the Nov. 4 ballot, so voters can have their say, too.

Currently, the Constitution says: "That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person 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."

Schaefer would add, after the word "arms," the phrase "ammunition and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms."

After the word "home," he would add "family."

Because Missouri law has allowed concealed weapons for a decade, his proposed amendment removes the current language about concealed weapons.

And, Schaefer told the committee: "We've added the language, "The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable. Any restriction of 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.'"

He said that new phrase is needed to block the number of laws proposed in recent years "that are infringements on this right that is already guaranteed.

No one testified against Schaefer's proposal.

But nine people urged the committee to support the amendment, including five Mid-Missourians.

Rich Hagendorf, Holts Summit, testified for himself and for the "120 members of the Second Amendment Friends Facebook page."

He told the committee: "Rights do not come from any man, political party or faction.

"Rights can only come from a superior being and, since all men are mortal, no man can grant a right."

But, he added, lawmakers can codify and protect the rights of free people, and adding the word "unalienable" to the state Constitution "is an honorable effort which I support."

Philip Todd, also from Holts Summit, agreed.

"I believe this is very important to just re-affirm that our Second Amendment is one of the most important - if not the most important - rights that we have," he said.

Peggy Crabtree Berry, Holts Summit, testified: "For 20 years, I protected my kids, by myself, out on the farm, with my .30-30. I also hunt."

She and her husband consider hunting an important activity.

"We have our freezer full of food," she explained. "I wouldn't buy it from the groceries, with all the preservatives in the foods, anymore.

"We want to get back to the basics of life."

And, she noted, people who think guns are dangerous should look at the September 2001 terrorist attacks, which were "done by jets," and the Oklahoma City bombing, that used fertilizer.

Representing the "Mid-Missouri Patriots," James Coyne of Columbia said: "If you look at any society in history, or around the world today, (one) of the first things that (every dictator) does is to restrict the rights of the people to keep and to bear arms."

The committee took no action on Schaefer's amendment, which he presented on the same day the full Senate spent about 90 minutes on Sen. Brian Nieves' new version of the "Second Amendment Protection Act."

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed last year's version, and last September the Senate came within one vote of overriding the veto.

Opponents say the proposed law is an unconstitutional nullification of federal laws.

But Nieves, R-Washington, told colleagues: "The specific intent of this bill is to protect liberties."

The Senate took no votes Monday on Nieves' bill, with debate on it expected to resume tonight.