Attorney general urges enforcement of gun ban
Chris Blank • The Associated Press • October 1, 2009
Jefferson City — The Missouri attorney general's office urged the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to allow enforcement of a state law banning gun possession by intoxicated people.
A Mississippi County judge ruled in 2008 that it was unconstitutional to bar intoxicated people from possessing a gun in their own homes. That ruling tossed out a 2006 case against a southeast Missouri man found unconscious in a chair with a loaded gun after he had threatened to shoot himself — or make the police do it — when his wife said she was leaving.
According to court records, John L. Richard, of Benton, threatened to kill himself and then took an unknown amount of morphine and an antidepressant. Richard was charged with a felony for possessing a loaded gun while intoxicated.
Assistant Attorney General Karen Kramer argued Wednesday that the state Supreme Court should allow the case to be prosecuted because the state has a legitimate interest in restricting guns from intoxicated people to protect public safety.
Craig Johnston, a public defender who represented Richard before the Supreme Court, said the intoxication ban is too broad and threatens to criminalize legal behavior.
The state law at issue makes it illegal to possess or discharge a gun while intoxicated. There are exceptions for transporting unloaded guns or when the firearm is needed for self defense.