The state of Missouri put in its unofficial bid to be the most pro-gun state in the nation when it passed a law that basically made enforcement of federal law by state and local police illegal within the state.
To say the law stirred up the proverbial hornet’s nest is an understatement.
We know there were plenty of things the law didn’t cover, such as ending NICS checks being required on all firearm sales–the ATF still required them as part of maintaining a license, after all, and no one was going to sell guns to an unlicensed dealer–but it was still an interesting development.
As I mentioned several times, I had concerns. I liked the idea of the law, I just didn’t think it would survive a legal challenge.
A Missouri law banning local police from enforcing federal gun laws is unconstitutional and void, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes ruled the 2021 law is preempted by the federal government under the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause.
“At best, this statute causes confusion among state law enforcement officials who are deputized for federal task force operations, and at worst, is unconstitutional on its face,” Wimes wrote.
Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey in a statement said he will appeal the ruling.
“As Attorney General, I will protect the Constitution, which includes defending Missourians’ fundamental right to bear arms,” Bailey said. “We are prepared to defend this statute to the highest court, and we anticipate a better result at the Eighth Circuit.”
The Missouri law had subjected law enforcement agencies with officers who knowingly enforced federal gun laws without equivalent state laws to a fine of $50,000 per violating officer.
Federal laws without similar Missouri laws include statutes covering weapons registration and tracking, and possession of firearms by some domestic violence offenders.
The Justice Department, which last year sued to overturn the Missouri law, said the Missouri state crime lab, operated by the Highway Patrol, refused to process evidence that would help federal firearms prosecutions after the law took effect.
As noted above, there will likely be an appeal and we’ll have to see where that goes. Again, while I like the concept here, I don’t think this will have the desired result.
But the upside here is that rulings such as these give states an opportunity. Just as anti-gun states swooped in following Bruen with their new concealed carry laws, there exists an opportunity for states to look at what gets ruled in the Missouri case and adapt their own version of the law to hold up to what the courts say is permissible.
As a result, pro-gun states can be even more pro-gun and send a signal to an increasingly hostile federal government that our Second Amendment rights matter and will be respected.
Yet that’s down the road.
Right now, what we have is a law in Missouri that is now null and void. That essentially resets the state back a couple of years. It’s not the end of the world, of course, and I’m sure officials in Saint Louis and Kansas City are pretty happy about it, but it’s also only going to be the status quo for a time.
The courtroom drama will play out for a bit longer, but anyone who doesn’t think a new law will be in the making after the dust settles is deluding themselves.