As It Turns Out, You Can't Just Nope Out Of Listening To The Federal Government's Laws On Guns
After the NRA's wildly successful lobbying to turn the Second Amendment into an absolute individual right was emboldened by the Bruen decision, several states have been toeing the line to determine what prohibitions, if any, stand in the way of gun ownership. One of them, Missouri, passed a law that put a chilling effect on state and local law enforcement from enforcing federal gun laws in Missouri. The Show Me State just got shown that it can't do that. Not for now, anyway. From Reuters:
A Missouri state law that declared several federal gun laws "invalid" is unconstitutional, a U.S. federal judge ruled on Tuesday, handing the U.S. Justice Department a victory in its bid to get the law tossed out.
At issue was a measure Republican Governor Mike Parson signed into law in 2021 that declared that certain federal gun laws infringed on the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms under the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.
U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes in Jefferson City, Missouri, said the state's Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA) violates the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause, which holds that federal laws take priority over conflicting state laws.
The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution is like the Commerce Clause and the Insurrection Clause in some ways -- they are some of the threads that bind together an otherwise mostly independent series of states. And as neat as it is to think of the states as individual laboratories of democracy, there has to be some overlapping and enforceable code of conduct that can separate otherwise good science from a bumbling series of OSHA violations in a lab coat.
Wimes, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, in a siding with Democratic President Joe Biden's administration called the practical effects of the Republican-led state's law "counterintuitive to its stated purpose."
"While purporting 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," he wrote.
It it pretty hard to argue against that -- just take a look at this clip that goes into detail about how laws like SAPA would make it harder for the police who aren't killing unarmed protestors to do domestic abuse calls.
State Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-OK) has penned several bills loosening gun restrictions, including the nation's first anti-red flag law. He thinks these bills protect the Second Amendment - and that they make us safer. We think it's probably one or the other. Watch it on @AppleTVPlus. pic.twitter.com/T7fLFLjTQ5
-- The Problem With Jon Stewart (@TheProblem) March 3, 2023
As expected, Missouri has already announced that it will appeal the decision.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, a Republican, in a statement promised an appeal, saying he was committed to "defending Missourians' fundamental right to bear arms."
"If the state legislature wants to expand upon the foundational rights codified in the Second Amendment, they have the authority to do that," he said.
Sure would be nice if some Missouri representatives were more committed to defending Missourians' fundamental right to live. Missouri has the fourth highest gun death rate in the nation, due at least in part to the vigorous defense of the Second Amendment by representatives like Bailey. As easy as it is to view this as a concrete example of the tension between state rights and federal authority, let's not forget about the real consequences we have to stomach in the process.
A 19-year-old gunman who killed 2 people at a St. Louis high school with an AR-15-style rifle had 600+ rounds of ammunition, say police.
It was at least the 40th school shooting of 2022.
Missouri has some of the weakest gun laws and one of the worst gun death rates in the U.S. pic.twitter.com/ae0vQm4B9a
-- AJ+ (@ajplus) October 25, 2022
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord(TM) in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by tweet at @WritesForRent.