JEFFERSON CITY — The Second Amendment is one of the most important rights guaranteed by our Constitution. It guarantees us the right to protect ourselves, our families and our property. Perhaps just as important, the Second Amendment serves as a citizen check on a government that seeks to take away or infringe upon our civil rights and liberties guaranteed to us by the Constitution. James Madison, in Federalist No. 46, contrasted the European nations, where “the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms” with the United States, where we would rely on an armed citizenry to protect ourselves, our families and our nation. Our Founders understood this all too well, having fought a war of independence to free the country from the oppression and tyranny of a government that neither understood nor respected the people it was supposed to represent. Sound familiar?
The past few years have seen increasingly aggressive and forceful attacks on our Second Amendment rights from the president, some members of Congress and judges. They have actively worked to make firearms and ammunition more difficult to obtain, have deliberately attempted to portray law-abiding gun owners as a threat to our country and state’s safety, and have led state and national legislative efforts to roll back pro-Second Amendment laws and enact new, oppressive gun control laws. While the president is issuing unconstitutional executive orders, trying to pass unconstitutional gun control laws through Congress and spending millions of dollars attacking your Second Amendment rights in state houses and local governments, your state Legislature is hitting back. Instead of defending a constitutional right we should already be free to exercise from leftist attacks, we aggressively affirmed our Second Amendment rights with a bill that is going to get government out of the gun-regulating business and will better-protect individuals who exercise their right to protect themselves.
Senate Bill 656 is a broad and far-reaching recognition of our gun rights. First, it puts in Missouri law what is known as “constitutional carry.” This allows law-abiding Missourians, who already have the right to open carry, the freedom to conceal carry, without having to obtain any additional permit. One of the purposes of constitutional carry is to get the government out of the firearms regulation business. Honestly, when has the government ever done anything better or more efficiently than our citizens or the private sector? Instead, government builds huge bureaucracies, spends our tax dollars and slowly chips away at our rights. Also, if the Second Amendment is a constitutional right, why should the government be regulating it and why do we have to get a permit and pay the government to do something our Constitution guarantees? Criminals and anyone judged mentally incompetent are still prohibited from owning and carrying a firearm, and Missourians who still want to get a permit and go through the CCW training, can still do it. The fact is, constitutional carry makes our state safer. Murder rates dropped by as much as 23 percent after states like Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming adopted constitutional carry, while the places with the most restrictive gun laws have the highest crime rates.
Secondly, Senate Bill 656 includes a Stand Your Ground provision that would change state law to allow you to protect yourself and your family in public. Current law requires you to flee from an attacker and not defend yourself. Stand Your Ground upholds the principle that our laws protect the innocent over the criminal and the law-abiding over the lawbreaker. In a situation where a Missourian is under attack or is threatened, it should not be necessary for that individual to take extraordinary measures to avoid the conflict that he or she did not initiate. Such a demand serves only to empower the assailant and to further victimize the victim. Should a woman who shoots an aggressor attempting to sexually assault her be criminally and civilly liable? Should a father or mother protecting their children from an assailant while walking down the street be put on trial and sent to prison for doing exactly what a father or mother are supposed to do? We can’t second-guess the necessity of protection when someone is faced with a split-second decision while in mortal danger. In those situations, we should always protect the victim over the criminal and the good people over the bad. Stand Your Ground will make our state safer, is consistent with our values, and is one of primary reasons we have the Second Amendment.
Among other provisions, the bill also allows Missouri citizens to obtain a lifetime CCW permit, caps fees (if someone wants to get a concealed carry permit) at $100, gives members of the military extra time to renew their carry permits, establishes punitive measures and civil liability for persons responsible for knowingly and illegally disseminating permit-holder information and expands “Castle Doctrine” protections to people legally authorized to be in per home, vehicle or business.
At a time when lawmakers around the country are talking about defending our Second Amendment rights, your representatives in the Missouri General Assembly are actually doing something about it. We are talking the talk and walking the walk. That’s what leadership looks like and I am proud to be part of a Legislature where we take our oath of office to defend and protect the U.S. and state constitutions seriously.
As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns about Missouri government. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-1480, firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 419, Jefferson City, MO 65101.