Missouri judge declines to rule on new gun law’s legality

Aug 27, 2021, 10:45 AM | Updated: 2:05 pm

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri judge on Friday declined to weigh in on the constitutionality of a new state law forbidding local police from enforcing federal gun laws.

Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green on Friday punted the case, writing that constitutional questions need to be addressed in other pending lawsuits against St. Louis city and St. Louis County filed under the new law.

Those municipalities sued to block the law in June. In a joint statement Friday, the city and county said they plan to appeal Green’s ruling.

“Today’s ruling is disappointing,” the statement said. “We will appeal this decision to stop this dangerous and unconstitutional law.”

The law denounces federal rules on firearms and subjects law enforcement agencies with officers who knowingly enforce any federal gun laws to a fine of about $50,000 per violating officer.

The law technically took effect when Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed it in June. But because of a drafting issue, the enforcement provisions don’t kick in until Saturday, bill sponsor Rep. Jered Taylor said.

“I know that this probably isn’t going to be the end of the lawsuits that are brought against the legislation,” Taylor said. “But I’m hopeful, just like what happened here, that we’re going to prevail and we’re going to protect law-abiding citizens’ gun rights in Missouri.”

The St. Louis-area lawsuit sought an injunction to halt enforcement of the law and to overturn it on the grounds that it violates the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which established that federal laws in most cases supersede state laws.

The Justice Department also sent a letter to Missouri officials warning them that the state can’t ignore federal law. Officials from the federal agency in a court filing this month said at least 12 Missouri officers have dropped out of federal partnerships because of the law.

Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt in a statement said Green’s ruling is a victory “for the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians.”

“Since the Second Amendment Preservation Act was passed, I promised to fiercely defend the law and Missourians’ Second Amendment rights,” said Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate. “That’s exactly what we did in this case and will continue to do moving forward.”

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Missouri judge declines to rule on new gun law’s legality