October 16, 2003

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if a law really wasnít a law? Sort of sounds like Dr. Suess goes to Washington, or in this case Jefferson City. Unfortunately, well at least as far as Iím concerned, this isnít a fictional childrenís book. Instead itís just another tale in the recent legislative soap opera that has become of Governor Bob Holdenís administration in Missouri where political parties and lobbyists fight it out on a daily basis. A court in St. Louis issued an injunction on October 10 that will put on hold the stateís recently approved law that would allow law-abiding citizens the right to carry concealed weapons.

The embattled law has traveled a long road. It was first defeated back in 1999 when Proposition B lost by the slimmest of majorities despite being approved in all but 10 of the 114 counties in Missouri. The determining factor was the City of St. Louis, where, oddly enough this newest challenge is centered. Now even after the state legislature was able, not only to pass the conceal and carry law, but then garner enough support to override Governor Bob Holdenís veto, the law once again is stalled. Missouri will have to wait until at least late October to learn whether or not it will join all but five other states in having some form of law allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons.

Despite the fact that the majority of the state (at least 104 of the 114 counties) as well as the vast majority of its elected representatives (both in the house and the senate) are in favor of law-abiding citizens having the right to carry concealed weapons, one St. Louis Judge has put it all on hold.

I remember high school social studies class. I realize the judiciary is an important part of our government and the whole checks and balances scheme. But it pains me to see special interest groups like those that oppose this valid law, wasting our stateís time and money with this type of ploy. It seems a little foolish that we have to dig up some obscure 1875 legislation that was written to insure the citizensí rights to keep and bear arms ďbut this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.Ē

Okay, so this 125-year-old constitutional provision does not justify concealed weapons. It doesnít prohibit them either - thatís why the legislature passed the new law, to justify the wearing of concealed weapons.

So instead of providing the checks and balances that the constitutional framers envisioned, our illustrious court system once again is being used to hijack a legally passed legislation with little hope of having the law repealed.

Instead this action will simply allow those involved with bringing the lawsuit as well as the lawyers and the judge to get their names in paper and gain some notoriety (not all good in these parts by the way). It will throw a monkey wrench in the application of the new law, delaying the initial start date as weeks and months are burned up in the court scheduling. Basically this will waste a bunch of money as more and more lawyers get involved during the hearings, appeals and all the rigmarole. Apparently money is the one thing the opposition to this law is not lacking. They spent a bundle fighting the ballot issue back in 1999 and are shelling out more cash for this last-ditched legal effort.

When itís all said and done, we, the taxpayers, are the recipients of a great injustice. A legally passed law doesnít go into effect when it should. Our court system is bogged down by frivolous actions when there are obviously more pressing matters to deal with. Law-abiding citizens have to wait to be legal in their efforts to protect themselves and to feel safe. All because special interest groups have bought enough support to make some ignore the fact that this is what the state wants. Iím just curious when the system officially switched from checks and balances to the delays and overshadowing system?

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