Kansas City mayor launches attack on Missouri preemption law

AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar

Missouri’s firearm preemption law is already the subject of a potential statewide referendum next year, with the group Sensible Missouri currently trying to gather enough signatures to put repeal of the statute before voters in November of 2024. But the anti-gunners hoping to undo the statute, which mandates that the state legislature set a uniform body of gun laws throughout the state, aren’t stopping with their ballot initiative. On Tuesday, Kansas City Mayor Quentin Lucas proposed two local ordinances that he maintains are designed to go around the state’s preemption law, but appear to directly challenge the statute instead.


One would prohibit minors from buying ammunition without parental consent, and the other would ban so-called switches, devices that turn handguns into automatic weapons.

Both ordinances were drafted, he said, in ways to skirt Missouri laws that preempt local governments from enacting their own gun control laws.

Lucas made the announcement a focal point of a speech he gave Tuesday morning outside City Hall at an inauguration ceremony celebrating the beginning of his second four-year term and the seating of a newly constituted city council. Seven newly elected members are beginning their first terms and five are returning for another four years.

Lucas said he will introduce the two ordinances at the council’s first regular meeting on Thursday.

“I say clearly and unambiguously, guns and ammunition being given to minors; guns in the hands of the wrong people; guns modified to be more potent, that the prohibition-era machine guns are the problem and are killing our community,” Lucas said in prepared remarks.

Earlier in the day, he along with St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, a fellow Democrat, heard from family members of the victims of gun violence at a “listening session” at police headquarters along with police Chief Stacey Graves and Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of the anti-crime group Moms Demand Action.


I’m very curious to see the exact text of these ordinances and how they supposedly get around the state’s preemption law, which is pretty absolute in its prohibitions on localities imposing their own gun control measures.

The general assembly hereby occupies and preempts the entire field of legislation touching in any way firearms, components, ammunition and supplies to the complete exclusion of any order, ordinance or regulation by any political subdivision of this state.  Any existing or future orders, ordinances or regulations in this field are hereby and shall be null and void except as provided in subsection 3 of this section.

  2.  No county, city, town, village, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state shall adopt any order, ordinance or regulation concerning in any way the sale, purchase, purchase delay, transfer, ownership, use, keeping, possession, bearing, transportation, licensing, permit, registration, taxation other than sales and compensating use taxes or other controls on firearms, components, ammunition, and supplies except as provided in subsection 3 of this section.

Subsection 3 of the preemption law deals only with open carrying; mandating that localities that have banned the practice allow it if the gun owner possesses a valid concealed carry license. There’s nothing in the language, however, that would allow Kansas City to set its own rules on ammunition sales or possession of an auto-sear.


It’s also important to note that while the state of Missouri may not have these prohibitions in place, it’s illegal under federal law to sell ammunition to anyone younger than 18 (21 if they’re purchasing handgun ammunition), and it’s also illegal under federal law to possess an “auto sear” or to convert a semi-automatic firearm to fully automatic fire. Any violations of federal law discovered by Kansas City police can already be referred to federal prosecutors, and the punishment for committing a federal felony is going to be much harsher than anything handed down in a potential misdemeanor charge, which is what Lucas’s proposed ordinances would be.

This is a fundamentally silly idea, at least when it comes to actually combatting crime in Kansas City. I don’t think that’s what’s really driving the mayor here, however. This is a PR push all about ending the state’s preemption law and imposing a spiderweb of local ordinances that vary from city to city, suburb to suburb, and county to county; all of which can easily ensnare responsible gun owners who have no idea they’re in violation of a community’s anti-gun laws. The end goal isn’t to duplicate federal law at the local level, but to make it a legally dangerous proposition to exercise your Second Amendment rights. This is just an opening salvo, but if Lucas gets his way Kansas City residents would soon be subjected to California-style restrictions on the right to carry, the types of firearms they could own, onerous storage requirements, and even licensing and registration mandates; inhibiting a fundamental civil right while doing nothing to improve public safety.


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