Missouri Courts Must Uphold Citizens’ Right to Possess Firearms for Defensive Purposes

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Commentary, Constitutional Structure, Legal Filings, Limited Government, Property Rights

In 2014, Missouri voters passed Amendment 5, which updated Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution, which protects “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[.]” The amendment was explicitly designed to give this right the most extensive protections possible, requiring courts to subject to “strict scrutiny” any restriction on citizens’ rights of self-defense, and obligating the state itself “to uphold these rights and… under no circumstances [to] decline to protect against their infringement.” We know this not only because the plain text of this provision clearly shows its purpose, but because the Freedom Center’s director of litigation, Dave Roland, was instrumental in drafting the amendment’s language.

Unfortunately, despite the Freedom Center’s best efforts, a majority of the judges on the Missouri Supreme Court have thus far held that the amendment, which was ratified with 61% of the vote, was completely ineffective; Chief Justice George Draper and the late Judge Rick Teitelman stood alone in arguing that the courts were obligated to give this amendment the force that the people clearly intended it to have. Following the Missouri Supreme Court’s lead, last year a Boone County judge upheld a University of Missouri rule that almost totally bans anyone from possessing a firearm on University property – even if a professor only wanted to keep a firearm in the locked trunk of his vehicle while he was on campus.

That case is now pending before the Missouri Court of Appeals, and the Freedom Center of Missouri has filed a brief to make sure that the Court understands what Amendment 5 was intended to do. Here is a slightly simplified, reader-friendly version of that brief; we hope everyone with interest in this issue will read it:


Unfortunately, the Freedom Center’s participation in this case is absolutely crucial. Although the Attorney General’s Office is supposed to be vigorously defending citizens’ right of self-defense in this case, the fact of the matter is that the Attorney General’s Office is the entity primarily responsible for the Missouri Supreme Court’s demolition of “strict scrutiny” in the first place, having argued for many, many years that courts must always presume that what the government does is consistent with the constitution. Indeed, if courts apply strict scrutiny the way it is supposed to work, that will put the Attorney General’s Office at a distinct disadvantage in other constitutional cases, where it is in the position of defending government infringements on liberty. Perhaps, then, it is not surprising that, despite twice being given extra time to file it’s brief, the Attorney General’s Office blew past the June 8, 2020, due date for filing and, as of the evening of June 10, 2020, it still has not filed a brief.

The message is clear. When the right of self-defense is at stake in Missouri’s courts, the Freedom Center is the only institution in the state that citizens can trust to fight, vigorously and uncompromisingly, to defend this right on their behalf. Our efforts have even garnered a place on the front cover of Time Magazine.

Preparing and filing brief like this takes a lot of time and effort. Hiring a regular attorney to do this work would cost tens of thousands of dollars. But the Freedom Center exists to defend constitutional freedoms – our efforts are not for hire. But that also means that the only way we can afford to do this work is for people to donate to support our organization. If you care about the right of self-defense like we do, we ask you to click the Donate button and set up a monthly contribution, then share this post with other like-minded people.