A couple of weeks ago, St. Louis city and county sued the state of Missouri over its new Second Amendment Preservation Act, arguing that the new law, which forbids local and state police from cooperating with federal authorities to enforce new federal gun control restrictions, violates the state and U.S. Constitution.
On Tuesday, the St. Louis politicians leading the lawsuit got a new ally in their anti-2A crusade when the Democrat-dominated county legislature in the Kansas City suburb of Jackson County, Missouri voted along mostly party lines to join the legal fight. County executive Frank White not only led the charge on Tuesday urging the county legislature to get involved in the challenge to the new law; but he’s been lobbying behind the scenes for several weeks.
White, a Democrat, last month asked legislators to support the court challenge filed by St. Louis county and city, expressing concern that the new law will prevent some local police from working with federal agents in enforcing gun restrictions.
At the time the lawsuit was filed, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said “this new law is like the state holding out a sign that says ‘Come Commit Gun Violence Here.’ ”
The federal Justice Department has said House Bill 85 conflicts with federal firearms laws and could hamper cooperation between federal and state law enforcement agencies. Missouri agencies could be sued for taking guns away from Missourians who are eligible to possess them under state but not under federal law.
While the Department of Justice did send Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt a strongly worded letter objecting to the new law, the DOJ hasn’t taken any further action. It seems like the Biden administration is leaving the legal leg work to their fellow Democrats in Missouri to bring a challenge in state court.
You’d think if the administration was truly convinced that the Second Amendment Preservation Act violated the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, they’d want to make that case themselves in federal court, but there’ve been no signs that Attorney General Merrick Garland is prepping a federal case against the state of Missouri over its new Second Amendment protections. Instead, we’re hearing that argument from local Democrats.
The law that the Missouri Legislature passed and the governor signed is blatantly unconstitutional,” said Jackson County Legislator Crystal Williams, who sponsored the county’s non-binding resolution. “It defies the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution — it’s really as simple as that.”
The Supremacy Clause, first applied in court in 1796, is the part of the Constitution specifying that federal laws overrule conflicting state laws.
It’s really not as simple as that. The Supreme Court ruled back in the 1990s in a case called Printz v. United States that the federal government cannot compel state or local agencies to enforce federal regulations and laws, and Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act fits squarely within that precedent. In fact, as Missouri’s AG made clear in his response to the DOJ, the state “is not attempting to nullify federal law” with the new act.
The letter argues that, under the Second and Tenth Amendments, the right to keep and bear arms is inalienable, and that Missouri has the right to refuse to enforce unconstitutional infringements by the federal government. The letter states, “Likewise, the Tenth Amendment directly limits the Federal Government’s ability to shift the balance of power within the federal system away from the States… the State of Missouri has every right under our system of government and the Tenth Amendment to place limitations on what state and local officials may do.”
The letter also notes the Department of Justice’s June 16 letter conflicts with their own policy toward “sanctuary cities,” stating, “On his first day in office, President Biden rescinded President Trump’s executive order that prohibited federal grant awards to sanctuary jurisdictions that refused to cooperate with the federal government to enforcement immigration laws. In April, the Office of Justice Programs reportedly repealed the Department of Justice’s policy that required recipients of a law enforcement grant to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a condition of their funding… President Biden and the Department of Justice have decided to reward states and cities that refuse to cooperate with enforcing constitutional immigration laws that protect our citizens against foreign threats, but now they attack Missouri for refusing to cooperate with enforcing unconstitutional gun confiscation laws that put our citizens in danger and degrade their rights.”
I’m sure that many of the Democrats challenging the Second Amendment Preservation Act would be fine with making St. Louis or Jackson County a sanctuary for illegal immigrants, or legalizing marijuana despite the federal prohibition on the drug. In fact, St. Louis County voted earlier this year to decriminalize recreational cannabis, which is fine by me. It would be nice, however, if their support for federalism extended to those fundamental rights protected by the Constitution instead of being limited to ignoring some federal drug laws.