A federal judge in Kansas City has nullified a 2021 Missouri statute which prevented state and local law enforcement from enforcing federal gun control laws.
The New York Times is reporting that U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes, a 2012 Barack Obama appointee, handed down a decision declaring Missouri’s Second Amendment Protection Act (SAPA) is unconstitutional. The newspaper described the laws as “part of a right-wing backlash to President Biden’s pledge to press for new gun control legislation.”
Judge Wimes sits at the Western District of Missouri.
According to PBS, Judge Wimes wrote in his 24-page ruling, “At best, this statute causes confusion among state law enforcement officials who are deputized for federal task force operations, and at worst, is unconstitutional on its face.” Elsewhere, the judge added, “State and local law enforcement officials in Missouri may lawfully participate in joint federal task forces, assist in the investigation and enforcement of federal firearm crimes, and fully share information with the Federal Government without fear of H.B. 85’s penalties.”
The New York Times report noted that Judge Wimes “expressed alarm in his ruling that some local and state departments had withdrawn from joint federal task forces in the wake of the law and had refused to use weapons databases administered by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.”
Reacting to the ruling, Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey promised to defend the state law “to the highest court.” An appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to be filed soon, he indicated.
Quoted by the Times, he told reporters, “The Second Amendment is what makes the rest of the amendments possible.”
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the SAPA “has been widely panned by St. Louis-area police and officials who said it kept authorities from cooperating with federal gun investigations and slowed efforts to crack down on gun violence.”
St. Louis-area officials alleged the Republican-controlled Legislature has passed “dangerous bills that make it more difficult to prevent gun violence in our communities,” the Post-Dispatch reported.
The law was blamed when a 19-year-old man went on a shooting rampage last October in a St. Louis high school. The gunman had been denied an attempt to purchase a semi-auto rifle at retail when he failed a background check. However, the Post-Dispatch reported he subsequently bought a gun from a private party, and when police showed up at the home of Orlando Harris—who died following a shootout with police—the gun was reportedly “transferred to a third person, known to the family. But it somehow ended up back with Harris, who then kept it in a storage locker.”
Harris had a history of mental health “struggles.” He killed two people and wounded others before the shooting was stopped.
The New York Times said the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Missouri’s law in February 2022 on the grounds the law violated the supremacy clause of the Constitution.