Let state voters put issue of concealed carry to rest
Without a doubt, St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer made the right ruling last week when he declared Missouri's concealed-carry law unconstitutional.
In his ruling, Judge Ohmer cited the Missouri Constitution, which states that the right to have guns "shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons."
It's no surprise that Attorney General Jay Nixon, whose office is charged with defending the concealed-carry law, already has filed a notice of appeal.
Earlier this year, we wrote that we believed Gov. Bob Holden made the right decision when he vetoed legislation that would allow Missouri residents to carry concealed weapons.
In his veto message, he cited a number of reasons, but perhaps the most compelling was the fact that Missouri voters had considered this issue and, in fact, voted to defeat a concealed-carry ballot measure just a few short years ago. "The citizens of Missouri have already clearly decided that they do not wish to authorize the carrying of concealed weapons in this state,'' the governor wrote.
That measure, Proposition B, was defeated by voters in 1999, receiving 678,652 "no'' votes and 634,809 "yes'' votes. In St. Louis County, the proposition was overwhelmingly defeated, receiving 201,512 "no'' votes and 88,334 "yes'' votes.
That's the key issue here. The measure had been placed before voters and it had been defeated. Yet our south county legislators remain split along party lines on this issue.
Republicans Jim Lembke of Lemay, Jim Avery of Crestwood and Walt Bivins of Oakville voted to override Gov. Holden's veto, while Democrats Michael Vogt of Affton, Patricia "Pat'' Yaeger of Lemay and Sue Schoemehl of Oakville were opposed to overriding the governor's veto.
Given the vote on Proposition B, we contend Republican legislators representing south county have ignored the will of the people they represent. It's no secret that many of the Republican legislators who voted in favor of the concealed-carry legislation and to override the governor's veto caved to pressure from the Republican leadership.
For those legislators who support concealed carry, that's fine. But that doesn't give you the right to do an end run around voters.
Put concealed carry on the ballot again and let the voters decide the issue once and for all.