Missouri gun law ruled unconstitutional

A federal judge struck down a Missouri law that blocked state and local officials from enforcing federal gun laws as unconstitutional this week.

Judge Brian Wimes, who was nominated by former President Obama, sided with the Justice Department in ruling the law violates the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which deems federal provisions the “supreme law of the land” that trump state laws.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) in June 2021 signed into law the Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA), which declared limitations on gun transfers, firearm registrations and other federal regulations unconstitutional.

Wimes, in granting the federal government’s summary judgment motion, opined that federal law preempts the state provision, and he ruled that SAPA is “unconstitutional in its entirety” because its other sections would be rendered meaningless if the law was only partially struck down. 

“SAPA’s practical effects are counterintuitive to its stated purpose,” Wimes wrote. “While purporting to protect citizens, SAPA exposes citizens to greater harm by interfering with the Federal Government’s ability to enforce lawfully enacted firearms regulations designed by Congress for the purpose of protecting citizens within the limits of the Constitution.”

The judge further ruled that other portions of SAPA are independently unconstitutional because they violate the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity, which restricts states from discriminating against the federal government.

The provisions include those that blocked state and local officials from enforcing federal gun laws and prohibited state law enforcement agencies from hiring individuals who have previously enforced those laws for the federal government.

“These enforcement schemes are likely to discourage federal law enforcement recruitment efforts,” Wimes ruled.

The Hill has reached out to the Missouri attorney general’s office for comment.

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