Following a “strict scrutiny” analysis by a Missouri circuit court judge, a St. Louis felon arrested with a handgun saw his charges dismissed last week under a new amendment to the state constitution.
The ruling was issued Friday by St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert Dierker in the case of Raymond Robinson, 55, who was arrested on July 28, 2014 following an anonymous tip to police that he was in illegal possession of a firearm.
According to court documents, when Robinson was stopped by police he advised officers that he had a pistol in his car and consented to a search. Formerly found guilty in 2003 for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, he stated that he carries a firearm for protection due to the cash nature of his employment as a handyman. The court noted that while the “defendant has not been a model citizen,” he has no record of violent felonies or mentally unstable behavior.
The ruling relies heavily on recent U.S. Supreme Court cases, notably Heller and McDonald, but also invokes Missouri’s own new Amendment 5.
The latter was the result of a Senate resolution that had passed the state legislature by a large margin early last year then was certified by 66 percent of votes cast in an August 2014 election. The amendment made the right to keep and bear arms “an unalienable right” and required state lawmakers and courts to uphold it.
As such, Amendment 5 requires courts to apply a most severe form of analysis known as “strict scrutiny” when weighing any case before it, requiring a “compelling governmental interest” to proceed.
Dierker, applying this to the current state laws post-Amendment 5, cited that since the state does not differentiate between different classes of felonies and does not define how non-violent felons can be stripped of their constitutional rights, dismissed the gun charges against Robinson.