New York, NY – In response to Missouri Circuit Court Judge Robert H. Dierker’s ruling today that will allow convicted felons to possess firearms as a result of his application of Amendment 5, Missouri’s “strict scrutiny” amendment, Everytown for Gun Safety released the following statement and background on the court’s decision.
STATEMENT FROM EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY SENIOR COUNSEL ADAM SKAGGS:
“Today’s decision by Missouri Circuit Court Judge Robert H. Dierker is an example of just how dangerous ‘strict scrutiny’ amendments like Amendment 5 are – in one strike of his gavel, Judge Dierker has declared that convicted felons are no longer all prohibited from possessing guns in Missouri. It is likely the state will appeal Judge Dierker’s decision and a higher court may well reinstate the felon in possession law – but even if Robinson’s conviction is affirmed, this case is a prime example of how Amendment 5 calls into question basic public safety laws. This decision comes just days after the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments on the validity of Amendment 5 and highlights why they should strike down this dangerous rewrite of the state constitution.
“Prosecutors across Missouri will now decline to bring charges against felons or others who violate gun crimes, for fear that a court will throw out the law like Judger Dierker did today. And the taxpayers of Missouri will pay the costs to defend challenges like the one Robinson brought – and won – today, not to mention the immeasurable cost of weakening public safety for Missouri families and communities.”
BACKGROUND ON AMENDMENT 5, STRICT SCRUTINY AND STATE OF MISSOURI v. RAYMOND ROBINSON:
In August 2014, Missouri voters approved Amendment 5, which amended the Missouri constitution and requires Missouri courts evaluating gun laws to apply the most severe form of judicial analysis — known as “strict scrutiny.” Strict scrutiny requires the government defending a gun law to show that the law is “narrowly tailored” to a “compelling” state interest, and because most laws subjected to strict scrutiny are struck down, Amendment 5 called into question Missouri’s most basic public safety laws, including its law prohibiting convicted felons from possessing firearms.
When a convicted felon, Raymond Robinson, was caught carrying a handgun, prosecutors charged him under longstanding Missouri law with being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm. Robinson appeared to be exactly the type of dangerous individual whom the law is designed to prevent from possessing a gun: he had previously been convicted of a felony for carrying a concealed weapon; he has prior arrests involving assault and resisting arrest; and he admitted to beating a man who stole his tools. And he admitted carrying a gun, despite it being illegal. Nevertheless, despite this criminal history, Robinson challenged the gun charges against him, arguing that after Amendment 5, the felon-in-possession law no longer passed constitutional muster because it could not survive strict scrutiny. Today Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker agreed with Robinson and tossed out the charges against him.