Monday, March 2, 2015

They Said It Couldn’t Happen. They Were Wrong!

There are very few times where I believe the saying "I told you so" is appropriate, but last Friday may have been exactly one of those times.

You see, last Friday in St. Louis, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Robert Dierker dismissed a case against Raymond Robinson who had been arrested by police officers for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The facts of the case were not in dispute.

Yes: a convicted felon, and

Yes: in possession of a firearm. 

Slam dunk, right?  Well, not anymore.  When legislators in Jefferson City proposed – and voters approved -- a change to our State's Constitution with Amendment 5, they altered the balance between safety and justice by requiring that “strict scrutiny,” which is the most rigorous form of judicial review, be applied to gun cases.

The state senator who co-sponsored Amendment 5 is an attorney. He has said he did not intend it to allow felons to be in possession of firearms. He is now running for attorney general.

I'm not an attorney, but it was very clear to me at the time that the people we arrest, the criminals who prey on the public, would use any means they could to subvert the system and not face the consequences for their actions. I said so.

Missouri’s Amendment 5 does very little to further the rights of law-abiding, citizens, who have ultimate protection under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. 

What Missouri’s Amendment 5 does do is give criminals the cover to have firearms, and it makes it harder to hold them accountable for their actions. It makes the jobs of police officers more dangerous and the jobs of prosecutors more difficult.

This is the primary reason Rebecca Morgan from Moms Demand Action and I are still in court challenging the ballot language of Amendment 5.  We could see this day coming, in spite of the Amendment's supporters, who said it would never be used to set criminals free.

Legislators in Jefferson City don't always see the disparate impact of their decisions.  I was in Jefferson City at the end of the last legislative session, when a representative said to me "I'm up for re-election in [not St. Louis or Kansas City].  I have to have a gun bill.”

Please note that my problem is not with Judge Dierker. He did his job. He interpreted the available law and applied it to the case before him.  In my estimation, the problem is the law was always more of a political move than good policy. Misleading and incomplete ballot language simply disguised that fact.  I told them so.

There is an opportunity for the Supreme Court to resolve this immediately by striking Amendment 5. Otherwise, we could see more and more challenges to common sense laws. 

I will keep you posted on our legal challenge.