The Justice Department has urged a Missouri court to invalidate the state’s new law that prohibits officials from enforcing federal firearms laws. They argue it is unconstitutional and harms public safety in the process, as well.
Federal prosecutors have expressed interest in blocking the implementation of a Missouri law challenged by the counties of St. Louis and Jackson. Cole County Circuit Court was informed by the Justice Department that the law, known as HB85, is unconstitutional and its enforcement should be halted.
The Biden administration wrote that HB85 poses significant risks to law enforcement within Missouri and that the law will continue to pose those risks.
The state prosecutor’s office warned that the law has already thwarted the efforts of law enforcement to promote public safety in the state and undermines law enforcement activity by disrupting federal, state, and local partnerships.
A measure signed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson in June imposes a $50,000 fine on law enforcement agencies that knowingly enforce federal firearms laws.
As a result of Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act, federal gun laws that fall under one of five categories are considered violations of the Constitution and will not be recognized.
Republican critics said the Missouri law aims to protect Missouri residents’ gun rights against attempts to tighten firearms laws by the Biden administration. Democratic critics argued it violates the Constitution.
Justice Department officials warned Missouri officials in June that it cannot ignore federal law. However, Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Parson said they intended to enforce the new law as usual.
According to Justice Department filings, Missouri’s law restricts the access of federal law enforcement to “essential information” obtained through information-sharing networks such as the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, which enables investigators to compare ballistic evidence with evidence from other national cases. The new state law may force some jurisdictions to restrict data provided to networks.
According to prosecutors, the Missouri law “creates confusion regarding the legality and enforcement authority of federal firearm laws.”
They told the Missouri court that HB85’s rejection of federal authority may result in erroneous beliefs about – and potential opposition to – federal agents performing their law enforcement duties, including executing search warrants, making arrests, and seizing firearms used in crime.
In a hearing scheduled for Thursday, the court will examine the validity of the state’s new law.