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Missouri urges court to uphold act declaring federal gun laws 'invalid' after Kansas City shooting

Jonathan Shorman, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri officials recently defended in court a far-reaching state law that declares some federal firearms laws “invalid,” a stark demonstration of how far the state has gone to thwart restrictions on guns.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s Office urged the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the state’s Second Amendment Preservation Act or SAPA during oral arguments on Feb. 23. The 2021 law, signed by Gov. Mike Parson, spurred confusion among law enforcement when it went into effect.

The U.S. Department of Justice has sued to overturn the measure. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Wimes in March 2023 ruled the law unconstitutional, but Missouri appealed.

The courtroom showdown between Missouri and the DOJ had long been scheduled for February, but came a little over a week after at least two people exchanged gunfire, according to prosecutors, following the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl rally, killing one bystander and injuring more than 20 others.

The mass shooting has led to renewed calls for action on gun violence and focused fresh attention on Missouri’s loose firearms laws. Republicans, with few exceptions, have resisted demands to consider new restrictions – and since the shooting Bailey has promoted his role in defending the Second Amendment Preservation Act.

The DOJ has argued SAPA “severely impairs federal criminal law enforcement operations” to fight gun crime in Missouri. Some local law enforcement have questioned whether the law allows them to cooperate with federal officials.

 

As state attorney general, Bailey is tasked with defending state law in court. Bailey, a Republican facing a competitive primary contest, has publicly framed his defense of the state law as a defense of the Second Amendment.

But in court, his office has instead centered its defense on the 10th Amendment, which reserves for the states powers not delegated to the federal government.

“This is not a Second Amendment case, it is a 10th Amendment case,” Missouri Solicitor General Josh Divine told the appeals court.

The federal gun laws declared invalid by SAPA include statutes covering weapons registration and tracking, and possession of firearms by some domestic violence offenders. State and local police are prohibited under the act from helping federal agents enforce any of the “invalid” laws, or from hiring former federal agents who had enforced them.

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©2024 The Kansas City Star. Visit at kansascity.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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