ST. LOUIS – The U.S. Department of Justice is taking the state of Missouri to court over a Second Amendment bill it claims restricts the enforcement of federal firearm laws. Meanwhile, some state leaders claim the law protects the rights of citizens.
Governor Mike Parson signed Missouri House Bill 85 into law in June 2021. The Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA) went into effect at the end of August 2021.
The law “prohibits state and local cooperation with federal officials that attempt to enforce any laws, rules, orders, or actions that violate the Second Amendment rights of Missourians,” according to Parson’s office. SAPA also allows for lawsuits against police agencies for violating Second Amendment rights with exposure of up to $50,000 per offense.
The lawsuit from the Department of Justice argues the Missouri law is invalid under the Supremacy Clause, meaning state governments from passing or enacting laws that conflict or usurp already established federal law.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt responded to the lawsuit with the following statement:
After their disastrous arguments in the Missouri Supreme Court last week, the Biden Department of Justice has now filed yet another partisan lawsuit that seeks to attack Missourians’ Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the Biden DOJ has used this lawsuit as a pretext for them to pull the plug on our successful and innovative federal-state crimefighting partnership, the Safer Streets Initiative. Since I launched the Safer Streets Initiative in 2019, we’ve filed over 650 charges against nearly 390 defendants with a conviction rate of roughly 98%. My Office has fought to continue the initiative, but this initiative has been suspended solely because of the Biden Administration’s actions. Time and again, the Biden Administration has put partisan politics ahead of public safety. Make no mistake, the law is on our side in this case, and I intend to beat the Biden Administration in court once again.Missouri AG Eric Schmitt
HB 85 was sponsored by State Representative Jered Taylor (R-Republic).
However, days after the bill was signed into law, police agencies around the state began evaluating what the new statute would mean for them.
The police chief in O’Fallon, Missouri announced his resignation, citing poor wording of the SAPA and future unintended consequences. Philip Dupuis said the bill’s vague language would create a flood of weaponized litigation and infringe on legitimate police duties and would have a deleterious effect on public safety.
That same month, both St. Louis City and County, along with Jackson County, tried to prevent the law from going into effect, but a judge ultimately sided with the state.
In August 2021, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said several of its state and local partners withdrew from collaborative efforts with federal agencies.