JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Now under state law, police departments in Missouri can be fined for violating someone’s Second Amendment rights after the governor signed the legislation over the weekend.
The Second Amendment Preservation Act voids any federal gun laws and allows a person to sue a police department for up to $50,000 if an officer infringes on someone’s Second Amendment rights.
It was one of the largest controversial bills passed by the General Assembly during session. House Bill 85 was sponsored by Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Republic).
“This bill will have no impact on crime in the state of Missouri,” Taylor said. “Again, this law applies to law-abiding citizens.”
Taylor said he filed the bills in previous years but it never made it across the finish line. The reason he thinks it passed this year is because of the Biden administration’s threats for gun control.
“We’re going to enforce all the state laws that we have in relation to gun laws,” Taylor said. “We’re just not going to help the feds enforce some of their unconstitutional or things that will be coming that we’ve been threatened with this administration. I think the current administration and the Democrats being in control of the Senate and Congress has really kind of lit a fire under some of the Republicans in our party.”
Before Taylor’s time in the General Assembly, other lawmakers have also proposed similar legislation. In 2013, the legislature approved the bill, but Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the bill.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced his plan to reduce gun violence in the state, which included a “red flag” legislation drafted by the Department of Justice that states could adopt. That legislation would allow family members or law enforcement to petition to a court order temporarily barring people that are in danger to themself or others from access a firearm. Another action includes restricting homemade weapons known as “ghost guns.”
Under Taylor’s legislation, it would prohibit officers from enforcing these federal laws.
“Our law enforcement in Missouri will not be able to help enforce any of those federal buybacks or bans or limitations, but the feds could still come in and enforce that in the state,” Taylor said.
If an officer enforces the voided federal gun laws, his or her department could face a fine up to $50,000.
“We have to be able to hold law enforcement accountable if they do violate someone’s rights,” Taylor said.
Lawmakers that have spoken in opposition of the bill have said this actually defunds police departments.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) said in a statement:
“House Bill 85 is a radical, dangerous, and obviously unconstitutional attempt to declare that Missouri will refuse to follow federal gun laws. When people are looking for real solutions on crime, policing, and public safety, Governor Parson and the Republican legislature have instead chosen to preserve Missouri’s growing reputation for extremist and dangerous laws. The new law even allows criminals who violate federal gun law to sue our local law enforcement officers for a minimum $50,000 fine if they in any way assist with federal investigations. It quite literally defunds the police and gives that taxpayer money to convicted criminals. It is long past time for Republicans in Jefferson City to stop the political grandstanding, take their jobs as leaders seriously and pass real solutions to crime in our state.”
Taylor disagrees, saying he doesn’t think this is going to hurt departments and it allows officers to still work with their federal partners on drug task forces.
“I do not believe that this is defunding in any way, in fact, I don’t want any police department in the State of Missouri to be fined the $50,000,” Taylor said.
The law went into effect immediately after Parson signed his name, but Taylor said he’s prepared for the legislation to end up in court.
“I predict it probably will,” Taylor said. “People think that this is somehow violating the supremacy clause of the constitution which it’s not. We’re not telling the feds what they can and can’t do, we’re just telling our law enforcement in the state what they can and can’t do.”
He compared this bill to medical marijuana being legal in the state.
“It’s still against the law federally to have marijuana, to sell it, to buy it and to use it but we as a state have said we’re not going to help enforce that federal law, in fact, we think it’s legal to have marijuana medically,” Taylor said. “I believe that it’s going to be upheld by the Supreme Court like other examples of anti-commandeering that have been used in the past.”
Under the law, law enforcement officers in the state are not allowed to violate someone’s Second Amendment rights, but federal officers can come into the state and take away those rights.
“The federal law enforcement could still come and enforce a federal AR-15 ban if they wanted to, but we are not using our resources which in effect makes it void in the state of Missouri because we are not helping.”
Gun laws in Missouri currently only prohibit felons and fugitives from having guns. HB 85 had an emergency clause in the bill, which means the legislation went into effect as soon as Parson signed it instead of waiting until the end of August.
Taylor said five other states have passed similar laws. Nearly a dozen others are looking to propose legislation to protect Second Amendment rights.