Missouri voters will decide on Tuesday whether the state will add an amendment to the state constitution that would safeguard the rights of gun owners.
Amendment 5 would declare the right to own firearms, ammunition, and accessories as unalienable. The measure says in part the state of Missouri would be "obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement."
Any laws passed restricting gun ownership would be subject to strict scrutiny, the highest level of protection for a constitutionally guaranteed right. The law would not prohibit the general assembly from restricting gun ownership from convicted felons or people deemed to be mentally ill.
Supporters of the measure say it ensures the rights of all gun owners from undue infringement. Opponents say the amendment is trying to circumvent federal gun laws.
But some critics have said language in the amendment is too vague, which could lead to problems in the future. House candidate Cindy Redburn said she's worried about the mental illness exception being used to deny gun rights to people like veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or people who had been diagnosed with ADHD as children.
"To put this type of language in here, we just consider that a little bit dangerous and unnecessary," she said. "The whole mental illness and mental disorder thing is a slippery slope."
The measure could set the stage a showdown with the federal government if congress were to pass a law restricting guns, as the state would be legally obligated to try and fight any such legislation.
Republican State Senator and attorney general candidate Kurt Schaefer is the primary sponsor of the bill.