Relationship Between Feds, Local Police Already Shifting In Missouri

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

In Missouri, the law of the land now states that local police aren’t to assist the federal government in enforcing gun control laws. The bill was just passed, of course, and the federal government and law enforcement throughout the state are going to need a period of adjustment. You can’t sever all ties in an instant.

Yet despite the recent passage of the law, we’re already seeing results.

As Missouri officials argue with the Biden administration over the scope of the state’s new gun law, federal law enforcement agencies are quietly assessing whether police departments will cut ties with them in firearm investigations.

The passage of the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which blocks Missouri police from enforcing a variety of federal gun laws, has alarmed gun control advocates and sparked concern that it could hamper police efforts to arrest violent criminals or confiscate their guns.

Emails obtained by The Star show federal prosecutors in eastern Missouri have asked at least a dozen police departments whether they will stop participating in federal gun crime investigations. The FBI has also queried a southwest Missouri police department, and is assessing the responses of local police statewide.

At least two departments have pulled officers from assignments with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, spokesmen confirmed.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has suspended its participation in an ATF task force, to which one trooper was assigned full-time and three part-time, Lt. Eric Brown said.

“With the passage of HB 85, Patrol members can continue to serve on federal task forces except where the task force’s primary focus is on weapons violations,” Brown said.

The O’Fallon Police Department has withdrawn two K9 officers “who were deputized to ATF on an as needed basis,” Operations Division Captain Derek Myers wrote in an email to other police officials.

An ATF spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

Of course, we later see the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who think gun control is just awesome. However, we also see a note that the Missouri law doesn’t seek to nullify federal law, it simply prevents state and local police from enforcing those laws.

Time and time again, we’ve seen that the federal government cannot make states enforce federal laws. If the ATF is that worried about gun laws in Missouri not being enforced, they clearly should send more of their agents to the state and pick up any perceived slack.

But Missouri police aren’t going to do it for them anymore.

Honestly, every state needs some variation on this. Maybe Congress would think twice about new federal gun regulations if they also had to police those regulations at the federal level. As it stands, they figure they can pass whatever and leave the poor suckers in middle America to pick up the pieces. More importantly, they figure those suckers can also foot a big chunk of the bill for that enforcement.

With more laws like Missouri’s on the books, they’d have to start reevaluating that enforcement, which would be a beautiful thing.