Changed law allows non-violent felons to carry guns, judge rules

By Joe Lambe

Missouri voters who approved a constitutional change to state gun law last year may not have intended to allow most state felons to possess guns, but they did it, a St. Louis circuit judge ruled Friday.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. Courtesy Jackson County Prosecutor's office.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. Courtesy Jackson County Prosecutor’s office.

The Missouri general assembly shaped the changes and put them to voters in spite of strong warnings from state prosecutors.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, among those who predicted such consequences, said it now falls on state lawmakers fix the mess they made.

“It is time to choose protecting public safety over politics,” she said in a Friday media release. “Everyone should agree that more guns in the hands of more criminals will only equal more violence.”

Before the state constitutional change, the law prohibited all felons from having guns.

But the change made bearing arms “a fundamental right,” an “unalienable right” whereas it had been a limited right, according to the Friday ruling by Judge Robert Dierker.

The change also specified that nothing in it would go against laws limiting gun rights of “convicted violent felons.”

But in the Raymond Robinson case ruled on Friday, his only prior felony conviction was from 2003 for carrying a concealed weapon.

The man in his 50s had arrests for assault and resisting arrest after that but no more felony convictions.

He contended he carried a gun for protection because he gets paid cash for doing odd jobs.

So the judge ruled he cannot be prosecuted as a violent felon in possession under the new law.

The judge also said that applied to all possession cases involving non-violent felons filed before voters approved the constitutional change.

Prosecutors contended drafters of the change and those who voted for it wanted to continue a blanket prohibition of felons in possession, the judge wrote, but “why include the express proviso regarding convicted violent felons?”

One Comment

  1. Such a nice post about a really important issue. I really do appreciate with you. I think gun law still need some changes.

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