Judge denies request to block Missouri law invalidating certain federal gun laws

By: - August 27, 2021 12:07 pm

The Cole County Courthouse in Jefferson City (Tessa Weinberg/Missouri Independent).

A Cole County judge on Friday refused to block a new state law that declares certain federal gun laws invalid and threatens financial penalties on law enforcement agencies that enforce them.

Circuit Judge Daniel Green sided with the state in a lawsuit filed jointly by St. Louis city and county that argued the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause and will hinder law enforcement’s ability to deter crime.

The law in question — set to go into effect Aug. 28 and dubbed the “Second Amendment Protection Act” by legislators — declares that when “the federal government assumes powers that the people did not grant it in the Constitution of the United States, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

It then states that federal gun laws adding special taxes on firearms, requiring registration or tracking of firearms, ammunition and accessories, or taking away guns from “law abiding citizens” cannot be enforced in the state. Missouri law enforcement agencies and officers face civil fines of up to $50,000 for cooperating with federal agencies to enforce the law.

The U.S. Department of Justice says the law has already undermined drug and weapons investigations, submitting an affidavit submitted to the court stating that a dozen state and local officers have withdrawn from participating in federal task forces at least in part because of the law.

The affidavit states that the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s information analysis center informed ATF it would no longer provide any investigative support, including background information on investigative targets.

Proponents of the law, including Gov. Mike Parson, have argued it is intended to push back against any effort by the federal government to tighten gun laws.

In his ruling, Green wrote that the plaintiffs pointed to at least two pending cases involving the new law, and thus, the constitutional issues raised should be “litigated (if at all) by each plaintiff in each separate case.”

In a statement after the ruling, Attorney General Eric Schmitt framed the case as a fight with Democratic President Joe Biden.

“Today’s ruling was an important victory for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office over the Biden Department of Justice, and for the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians,” said Schmitt, a Republican running for U.S. Senate.

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.