On October 25, gun rights advocates will hold an “Open Carry/Firearm Education Walk” in St. Louis, to raise awareness of the right to carry unconcealed firearms, particularly in light of recently strengthened protections of that right. The event is to begin at 1:00 PM, starting at the Citygarden/Gateway Mall, walking to the Gateway Arch, and then returning to the starting point.
Much of the above mentioned strengthening happened on August 5, when Missouri voters overwhelmingly chose to amend Section 23 of the state constitution (Missouri’s equivalent of the United States Constitution’s Second Amendment) to state that the right to keep and bear arms is unalienable, and to remove language from the section that denied any constitutional protection of the right to carry concealed weapons.
Gun rights in Missouri got another boost on September 10, when the state legislature overrode Governor Nixon’s veto of Senate Bill 656, a multi-pronged gun rights bill that lowers the age of eligibility for a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19, allows schools to designate staff and teachers with concealed carry permits as school protection officers, authorized to carry concealed firearms to protect the school and students from attack, and prohibits local bans on the open carrying of firearms.
The Open Carry/Firearm Education Walk is more about Amendment 5 than about SB 656. Even with SB 656, for example, according to law, even open carry requires a concealed carry permit–a position that would appear to be in conflict with the newly amended Section 23. Still, Richard Loftus, one of those organizing the event, is making no bones about the legal risks inherent to attending this event with an openly carried firearm, and without a concealed carry permit honored by Missouri:
This is all about amendment 5 nullifying open carry ordinances across the entire state for ALL LEGAL PERSONS regardless of permit. There are MANY people whom feel this is an accurate position, there are many whom do NOT and believe those ordinances are going to result in arrest and prosecution of those carrying without a permit.
Mr. Loftus goes on to note that this event takes place in an area in which every single legislator has opposed every single pro-gun rights bill since the year 2000. In short, to attend with an openly carried firearm, and without a concealed carry permit, is to face the risk of arrest and prosecution, with no certainty that the courts will recognize Amendment 5 as invalidating all laws against permit-less open carry. Not for the faint of heart.
Nor, of course, was refusing to move to the back of the bus for the faint of heart (a description never applied to Rosa Parks), or marching into Selma, or, for that matter, defending Lexington and Concord from the red coats. The intent here, of course, is not to put the planned Open Carry Walk on the same level as those historical events, but to note that very little of worth is accomplished without both risk and effort.
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