Just months after Missouri voters approved stronger gun rights last August, the new constitutional amendment is being put to the test by a convicted drug dealer who wants to carry a gun.

The Missouri Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Wednesday on whether the new constitutional provision subjecting gun-control laws to strict legal scrutiny means that Missouri can no longer bar nonviolent felons from having guns.

Attorney General Chris Koster’s office is urging the court to retain the ban.

Missouri voters in August approved Constitutional Amendment 5 by a margin of over 60 per cent. It states that any restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms “shall be subject to strict scrutiny,” but also says the measure should not be construed to prevent laws limiting the gun rights of “convicted violent felons” or people determined by a court to be a danger because of mental illness. The measure is now part of the Missouri Constitution.

In January 2013, Marcus Merritt was charged with drug possession and three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm for having a revolver, shotgun and rifle. The gun charges were based on the fact that Merritt had been convicted in federal court in 1986 for felony drug distribution.

Merritt’s attorney sought to dismiss the firearm-possession charges, arguing that the law in effect in 1986 only made it a crime for people convicted of “dangerous” felonies to have guns.

Bob Hamilton, KMOX News

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