Local leaders pressing Missouri Supreme Court on gun laws

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - A broad coalition is backing Missouri’s law prohibiting convicted felons from possessing a gun in legal briefs filed with the state Supreme Court.  Decisions by several St. Louis City Circuit judges put the law in limbo this year following a voter approved change in the state constitution in August 2014.

Now, with increasing gun violence in urban areas like St. Louis, leaders are warning the law is critical to reducing violent crime.

“We’re going to fight this hard and we’re going to plead with the court to allow us to continue to enforce our law,” St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay said Wednesday.

The city joined St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlton, Joe Reagan of the Regional Chamber, community leader and NFL veteran Demetrious Johnson, and the SSM Healthcare organization in urging Missouri’s Supreme Court to keep the “felon in possession” law alive.

Johnson, whose charitable foundation works with inner city youth, said, “We should give convicted felons a second chance to succeed in life, but they don’t need a gun to do it?”

The St. Louis Circuit Attorney filed a brief Tuesday calling for the same action from the Missouri Supreme Court.  “It really comes down to public safety.  We need these ‘felon in possession’ laws on the books,” said the Circuit Attorney’s Chief Trial Assistant Beth Orwick.

The so-called “Amendment Five” to Missouri’s Constitution was designed to protect a citizen’s right to carry a concealed gun. But some defense attorneys have urged judges to apply it also to convicted felons.  Judges agreed in three cases.  The St. Louis City Circuit Attorney has appealed all three decisions to the Supreme Court.