The Department of Justice sued the state of Missouri in an attempt to have a controversial gun rights law declared unconstitutional, NPR reports. The Second Amendment Preservation Act was signed by Gov. Mike Parson last year. It allows citizens to sue law enforcement agencies and officers for $50,000 if they can show an infringement of their state gun rights. The law attempts to interfere with or invalidate federal gun control laws in five key areas, including restricted ownership for some felons, confiscation orders, and registration requirements. DOJ argues that Missouri is violating the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. The law has also prompted waves of opposition from cities, counties, and police officials, who report that the chilling effect on police operations caused by the law has the potential to harm public safety.
The DOJ's complaint cites successful joint state and federal operations, such as the Columbia, Mo., Violent Crimes Task Force, that are no longer possible because of the law. A parallel suit brought by St Louis and Kansas City's Jackson County was argued at the state's supreme court last week. That suit said that 60 Missouri police officials have filed affidavits affirming that the law " has hindered law enforcement's ability to defend and protect Missouri citizens." Twelve local agencies have ended partnerships with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and some police departments have stopped registering firearms into the federal database. Missouri's Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a candidate for the state's open U.S. Senate seat, has vowed to oppose the DOJ's suit.