Opposing petitions filed to ask voters whether Missouri should allow local gun restrictions

Missouri became an “open carry” state in 2017.
FILE — Since 2017, Missouri has been an “open carry” state, meaning you don’t have to have a...
FILE — Since 2017, Missouri has been an “open carry” state, meaning you don’t have to have a permit to carry a gun openly or concealed.
Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 9:40 AM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Two initiative petitions filed in Missouri aim to address gun violence in the state but would impose radically different methods of achieving that goal.

One of the petitions would codify Missouri’s “permitless carry” policy into the state’s constitution.

The other would allow local governments set their own gun restrictions.

Since 2017, Missouri has been an “open carry” state, meaning you don’t have to have a permit to carry a gun openly or concealed.

In the last decade, gun deaths have increased by 70% in Missouri compared to just 33 % nationwide, according to EveryStat, an organization advocating for stricter gun laws.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Missouri has the 8th highest rate of gun deaths in the U.S., based on the latest data available.

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Jimmie Edwards, a former judge and former director of the St Louis Department of Public Safety filed the petition that seeks to allow local jurisdictions to pass and enforce their own gun laws.

“Gun possession, gun ownership, and the right to defend oneself with a weapon is not our focus,” Edwards said. “We can engage in permissible gun regulations without violating any of the laws of this country. The only thing that we’re asking is for an opportunity to allow urban areas like Kansas City and like the city of St. Louis to be able to regulate it.”

Edwards points to research that shows a lower number of firearms in a society leads to fewer shootings and gun deaths.

The other petition was filed by Paul Berry III, a gun-rights activist in the St. Louis Area.

His ballot question would ask voters if the state should block any attempt to regulate firearms – except in a few cases.

It would also codify a child’s right to carry a firearm with parental permission.

“Parents’ rights and child-rearing rights trump the Constitution when it comes to these issues. And what that means is the parent decides whether it can hunt; whether he can possess a gun; where he could possess a gun,” Berry said. “This is no different than a car, or free speech or any other thing.”

Should both petitions make it all the way to the statewide ballot in 2024, and if voters give approval to two contradictory questions, which change should be imposed?

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled in a previous case that, “when conflicting measures are approved at the same election the one receiving the largest affirmative vote shall prevail.”

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