Missouri leaders fire back at DOJ in dispute over Second Amendment rights

Politics

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.- Over the weekend, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a bill that established the Second Amendment Preservation Act.

This bill prohibits state and local cooperation with federal officials to enforce any action violating the “Second Amendment rights of Missourians,” according to those in favor of the legislation.

Since that signing, the Justice Department warned Missouri officials that the state can’t ignore federal law. In a letter sent to Governor Parson, Justice officials said the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause outweighs the measure that Gov. Mike Parson signed into law Saturday.

Now, Parson and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt are sending a letter back to the Department of Justice. The two claim to be fighting back against potential federal overreach and encroachment on Missourians’ Second Amendment rights.

Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Republic) sponsored the bill that also fines police departments up to $50,000 if an officer violates someone’s Second Amendment rights. He received the letter from the governor’s office Thursday morning. Taylor said he found it “comical” the DOJ sent the letter and asked for the law to be clarified.

“This law doesn’t impact federal law enforcement, it does impact our state enforcement,” Taylor said. “I just found that pretty hysterical that they [DOJ] seem offended that we would do this and we’re not going to help them.”

The Department of Justice said in the letter it sent Wednesday to Parson and Schmitt, they wanted clarification of the law. The seven-page letter mentioned the murder rates in Missouri, saying:

“At a time when homicides have increased in Missouri and neighboring states, measures that impair the effective enforcement of federal law will increase the risk of violent crime in our communities.”

It then went on to say, “Under our federal system, a state cannot nullify federal law.”

Taylor said it doesn’t nullify federal law because the federal government can still come into Missouri and enforce federal law.

“We’re not going to help you [federal government] enforcement your unconstitutional laws, that’s the point of this bill,” Taylor said. “By us not helping participate, it’s going to be pretty hard to do in the state of Missouri.”

The letter from the DOJ also said Missouri receives ample federal grants and assistance for law enforcement.

“Missourians wants to make sure that our Second Amendment rights are protected and if that means losing a little bit of federal aid as far as money goes, I think we’re willing to do that,” Taylor said. “We can figure out other resources we can put towards law enforcement if that’s the case.”

Taylor said five other states have passed similar legislation and wonders if they received a letter from the federal government warning them about their law. He also compared the Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA) to marijuana, which is illegal under federal law.

“We’ve seen states pass these laws that saw we are not going to help you enforce federal laws when it comes to sanctuary cities, to illegal immigrants in the U.S. and we’re not going to help you enforce marijuana laws,” Taylor said. “We’re applying the same principal to gun laws and now it’s a big deal because they’re afraid that other states are going to join us.”

“Missourians’ and Americans’ Second Amendment rights are enshrined in the Constitution – I will defend those rights at every turn,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “Our letter to Biden’s Department of Justice sends a clear message: we will fight any attempts from the federal government to encroach on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

“The Second Amendment Preservation Act is about protecting law-abiding Missourians against government overreach and unconstitutional federal mandates,” Governor Parson said. “We will reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property. Throughout my career, I have always stood for the Constitution and our Second Amendment rights, and that will not change today or any day.”

According to a press release, the letter argues that, under the Second and Tenth Amendments, the right to keep and bear arms is inalienable, and that Missouri has the right to refuse to enforce unconstitutional infringements by the federal government.

Schmitt and Parson claim in the letter that the Department of Justice’s June 16 letter conflicts with their own policy toward “sanctuary cities,” stating, “On his first day in office, President Biden rescinded President Trump’s executive order that prohibited federal grant awards to sanctuary jurisdictions that refused to cooperate with the federal government to enforcement immigration laws. In April, the Office of Justice Programs reportedly repealed the Department of Justice’s policy that required recipients of a law enforcement grant to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a condition of their funding… President Biden and the Department of Justice have decided to reward states and cities that refuse to cooperate with enforcing constitutional immigration laws that protect our citizens against foreign threats, but now they attack Missouri for refusing to cooperate with enforcing unconstitutional gun confiscation laws that put our citizens in danger and degrade their rights.”

The letter to federal officials says, “We will fight tooth and nail to defend the right to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment, Article I, § 23 of the Missouri Constitution, and the Second Amendment Preservation Act. And we will not tolerate any attempt by the federal government to deprive Missourians of this critical civil right.”

Taylor said he still expects the legislation to end up in court.

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