Missouri Voters Approved Amendment 5 -- But It Took Jeffry Smith to Test Its Limits

Photo by Theo Welling
Jeffry Smith: armed, but, he says, not at all dangerous.

It's just another day at the Saint Louis Zoo, a Saturday in June, and the air is thick with humidity, sweat and sunscreen. Children drag parents along winding pathways to see the new polar bear, to get another soda, to find a bathroom, to have their faces painted like tigers. But something is amiss outside the zoo's south entrance.

There, five police officers stand guard near the turnstiles. Just down the sidewalk a dozen people — nearly all women — wave signs reading "Animals not Ammo" and "Gun-Free Zone." The protesters stare daggers toward Jeffry Smith, a towering, pot-bellied bear of a man stuffed into a pink polo shirt and white shorts. He wears a maroon visor cap stenciled with the name of a Florida country club. He also wears a pistol holster on his waist, but it's empty. It looks like a chunky cell-phone case sold at a mall kiosk.

Smith, 56, has stationed himself in a patch of shade beneath a pedestrian bridge near the entrance, a slightly more comfortable spot to field questions from the gaggle of reporters on scene. He's surrounded by cameras and microphones.

"So, it's my understanding that you're from Cincinnati," begins a FOX 2 reporter. "Why come all the way here to Missouri to make this statement?"

Smith, who at six-foot-nine looms over the man, grumbles back, "I didn't."

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Watch This Guy Confront Gun-Rights Advocates at St. Louis Zoo

Image via
A YouTube user accuses this man on camera of living in a "Rambo fantasy world."
Gun-rights advocate Jeffry Smith of Ohio did not, in the end, make good on his plan to walk through the St. Louis Zoo on Saturday with a .45 caliber handgun to challenge its firearms ban.

But Smith and some like-minded allies did show up at the zoo, and ideological sparks did fly -- out on the sidewalk! We know this because a man named Rich Johnson confronted them, recorded the encounter and posted it to YouTube.

See also: Open Carry Gun Walk Through Citygarden and Gateway Arch Angers St. Louis Mayor Slay

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Sarcastic Facebook Comment Led to Man's Arrest, Lawsuit Claims

Flickr via DVIDSHUB
It turns out that jokes about school shootings freak people out. Shocker.
On January 25, James Robert Ross, a 20-year-old convenience store clerk in Jackson, Missouri, left a bitterly sarcastic comment on a Facebook post titled "Why I need a gun."

That comment would come back to bite Ross in the ass.

We haven't been able to find the original Facebook post ourselves, but according to a federal lawsuit filed on Ross' behalf last week, it included an image of an AK 47 assault rifle. The caption read: "This one is for self-defense against enemies, foreign & domestic, for preservation of freedom & liberty, and to prevent government atrocities."

Ross, who's described in the suit as a "gun-control advocate," commented on the post:

"Which one do I need to shoot up a kindergarten?"

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Nutshellz CEO Gets Shot in the Balls to Prove His Groin Protector Is Bulletproof

Nutshellz LLC via YouTube
'X' marks the spot.

The last time Daily RFT hung out with Jeremiah Raber, he showed us that his product -- the Nutshellz groin protector -- could take a bullet. In his back yard in High Ridge, he strapped the device to a target, and pumped it full of lead. Sure enough, the layers of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene stopped the bullets from piercing the underlying cup, though Raber figured it would probably still hurt like hell to get shot right in the family jewels.

"It's not going to be fun. I wouldn't want to sign up for that at all," he said at the time.

How things have changed.

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Activist Plans to Bring Guns on St. Louis MetroLink As Test of Missouri Law

Courtesy of Jeffry Smith.
Coming to St. Louis buses and trains near you: Guns.
On a sunny day in late October 2014, Jeffry Smith and about 50 armed buddies strolled through St. Louis' Citygarden on the way to the Gateway Arch. To many observers, including the city's mayor and police chief, the display of pistols and rifles among downtown's busiest tourist spots was a disturbing example of the how Amendment 5 had thrown the state's gun laws into disarray.

Approved by 60 percent of Missouri voters in August, the amendment swept away local
ordinances prohibiting open carry and enshrined the right to bear arms with a virtually impenetrable legal shield.

The armed walk was just a start, says Smith, an Ohio firearms instructor who co-organized the event with local gun-rights activists. Now he tells Daily RFT he's planning to test just how far Amendment 5 can go -- and that means carrying weapons onto MetroLink trains and buses.

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Proposed Laws in Missouri, Kansas Would Take Guns from Convicted Abusers, Stalkers

Rep. Stacey Newman.
Two state representatives from Missouri and Kansas are coming together across state and partisan lines to implement new anti-gun violence legislation.

The bills -- sponsored in Missouri by Richmond Heights Democrat Stacey Newman and in Kansas by Republican Barbara Bollier -- bolster current state laws by requiring people with stalking or domestic violence convictions to surrender their firearms, instead of just barring them from buying new ones.

"This is a way to save lives," Newman tells Daily RFT. "You can say (to convicted abusers), 'You can't own a gun,' but if there's already a cache in your house or you know this person already owns a gun, this takes it a step further."

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Open Carry Gun Walk Through Citygarden and Gateway Arch Angers St. Louis Mayor Slay

Courtesy of Jeffry Smith
A group of gun-loving compatriots took their firearms for a walk through downtown St. Louis on Saturday.
Own a gun in Missouri? Legally? With a concealed carry license? Well, congratulations are in order, because you can open carry that gun all you want, seemingly anywhere, and nobody -- not St. Louis mayor Francis Slay, state legislators or the cops -- will stop you.

That's the takeaway from Saturday's open carry demonstration through Citygarden and the Gateway Arch, which attracted around 50 local and out-of-state activists to the heart of downtown St. Louis. Participants wore holstered pistols or carried long rifles slung over the shoulder, drawing both stares from passing tourists and the ire of the city's mayor.

"What you saw on the streets of downtown St. Louis today was like a scene out of a bad Western," Slay said during press conference Saturday afternoon. "We can dismiss the people who protested this morning as extremists who should not be taken seriously. I agree with that. But we have to take this law seriously."

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Gun Rights Supporters Head to Gateway Arch, Citygarden to Test Missouri's New Gun Laws [UPDATES]

Courtesy of Jeffry Smith
Who wants to get strapped for a stroll?
The current landscape of Missouri gun law is confusing.

Last month, state legislators overrode Governor Jay Nixon's veto on a bill that instantly erased all regional bans on open carrying firearms. Then, add the passing of Amendment 5, which enshrined all Missouri gun laws as "unalienable," and it would appear that gun rights in the Show Me state have never been stronger.

But nobody in Missouri -- including law enforcement and St. Louis city officials -- seems to understand the true scope of these new gun laws, says Jeffry Smith, a firearms activist and instructor from Ohio. Smith is leading an "Open Carry/Firearms Educational Walk" this weekend in downtown St. Louis, saying he wants Missourians to know their constitution provides a fundamental right to open carry firearms, even without a concealed carry permit. He and potentially dozens of local and out-of-state activists want to prove their point by taking a "friendly" jaunt with their guns through Citygarden and the Gateway Arch on October 25.

Update: See below for interviews with St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson and a federal ranger at the Gateway Arch.

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Police Chief, Circuit Attorney Say "Unalienable" Gun Rights Amendment Misleads Voters

A proposed Missouri constitutional amendment would beef up state gun laws to match the "unalienable" rights in the Declaration of Independence, and that's setting off alarm bells with St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson and Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce.

Both have filed lawsuits targeting state legislators for misrepresenting the amendment on the August 5 primary election ballot. The ballot includes the question: "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is a unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right?"

"It doesn't tell voters that 140 years of law is going to be wiped out," says attorney Burt Newman, who filed Joyce's motion on Wednesday. "People have a right to know."

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Missouri Senate Approves Bill That Criminalizes Federal Gun Laws

Flickr/Michael Glasgow
The controversial Second Amendment Protection Act has cleared the first legislative hurdle to becoming Missouri law.

Sponsored by Republican State Senator Brian Nieves, the bill, SB 613, would nullify federal gun laws and treat federal agents enforcing those laws as criminals. Yesterday, the Missouri Senate approved the bill, 23-10.

SB 613 is moving to the House, where last year a similar bill, HB 436, was resoundingly approved with a vote of 109-49.

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