Missouri started this battle back in 2021 when Governor Mike Parsons signed the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” (SAPA) into law. The Act’s language is quite plain, allowing local law enforcement to refuse to cooperate with any federal law enforcement action that seeks to confiscate the guns of its citizens. The law also penalizes any local LE agencies who refuse to adhere to the law. Newton County, Missouri, was the first to kick things off, and other Missouri counties followed suit.
Biden’s Department of Justice, which hasn’t found a civil liberties infringement it hasn’t liked, decided it needed to oppose the State of Missouri, claiming it violated the Supremacy Clause. Of course, then-AG Eric Schmitt pushed back hard in a seven-page response letter. Right on brand, they sued.
In a separate legal action, the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and Jackson County also filed suit against the SAPA law, claiming it harmed local law enforcement. So there were pressures without and pressures within in opposition to the law.
On Tuesday, a United States District Court judge ruled that SAPA is unconstitutional.
A controversial law signed by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson in 2021 has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.
The “Second Amendment Preservation Act” banned local law enforcement from enforcing federal gun laws. Police departments could be sued and fined $50,000 for each and every violation.
It is an interesting fight, particularly after the June 2022 Bruen ruling by SCOTUS. Does the Second Amendment language, “Shall not be infringed,” extend to federal law enforcement action against citizens when the state is ordered to uphold and protect their 2A rights?
Therein lies the challenge.
On Tuesday, United States District Court Judge Brian C. Wimes ruled on an attempt to dismiss a lawsuit against “SAPA,” denying the attempt, and issued a summary judgment ruling the law unconstitutional.
Wimes said SAPA violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states that in the case of any conflicting federal or state law, federal laws take priority.
Wimes wrote in his analysis saying while SAPA was intended to protect citizens, “SAPA exposes citizens to greater harm by interfering with the Federal Government’s ability to enforce lawfully enacted firearms regulations designed by Congress for the purpose of protecting citizens within the limits of the Constitution.”
So does the Bill of Rights supersede the Supremacy Clause or vice versa? Federalism, codified under the Tenth Amendment, is one of the bases for the SAPA law. Because of the overreach of the federal government, particularly in the areas of abortion and 2A rights, red state legislative houses are shoring up their laws to draw a brighter line on federalism. This law will be a major test of that line.
According to the ruling made public Tuesday, “Officials in Missouri may lawfully participate in joint federal task forces, assist in the investigation and enforcement of federal firearm crimes, and fully share information with the Federal Government without fear of H.B. 85’s penalties.”
It appears that the constitutionality of this SAPA law could be headed to the United States Supreme Court. The first hurdle is the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals, and Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has declared this as his next move.
STATEMENT ON SAPA: As Attorney General, I will protect the Constitution, which includes defending Missourians’ fundamental right to bear arms. We are prepared to defend this statute to the highest court and we anticipate a better result at the Eighth Circuit. (1/3)
— Attorney General Andrew Bailey (@AGAndrewBailey) March 7, 2023
The Second Amendment is what makes the rest of the amendments possible. If the state legislature wants to expand upon the foundational rights codified in the Second Amendment, they have the authority to do that. (2/3)
Republican State Rep. Eric Burlison, who was the original sponsor of the bill, now law, issued his support of AG Bailey’s decision to appeal.
The State of Missouri, not a federal judge, should determine how it spends its resources. That’s what SAPA does. I fully support Attorney General Bailey’s announcement to appeal this decision. (2/3)
— Rep. Eric Burlison (@RepEricBurlison) March 7, 2023
In the meantime, the Mayor of Kansas City and gun control advocacy groups are declaring victory.
The Second Amendment Preservation Act belongs in the dustbin of history, remembered only as a uniquely awful and harmful piece of legislation. My thanks to our federal partners and the Kansas City Council for joining me in opposing this nonsensical piece of legislation.
— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) March 7, 2023
On the same day a federal judge ruled Missouri’s dangerous “Second Amendment Preservation Act” as unconstitutional, hundreds of our volunteers are at the state Capitol, demanding lawmakers take action to strengthen gun laws in their state. 💪 #MOLeg pic.twitter.com/gdsVUvUPHl
— Moms Demand Action (@MomsDemand) March 7, 2023
A SAPA bill was signed into law in Tennessee in 2021. The Ohio state legislature is weighing similar measures.
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