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Federal Judge Declares Missouri Gun-Rights Law Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled Missouri’s sweeping gun-rights law unconstitutional, in a win for the federal government, which said the law hurt criminal investigations. The 2021 legislation made it illegal for state or local officials to cooperate with federal agents to enforce orders, rules or laws that go against the Second Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. The law gave Missourians the right to sue local police departments for $50,000 in damages if officials prevented their right to bear arms. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, signed the legislation in June 2021. The federal government sued Missouri, arguing the new law impeded criminal law-enforcement operations in the state, reports the Wall Street Journal. U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes said Tuesday the law violated the so-called supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says that federal laws take priority over state laws. He also said the law was counterintuitive. “While purporting to protect citizens,” he wrote, the law “exposes citizens to greater harm by interfering with the Federal Government’s ability to enforce lawfully enacted firearms regulations designed by Congress for the purpose of protecting citizens within the limits of the Constitution.” Wimes called the law was “invalid, null, void, and of no effect.” He said state and local law enforcement can now share information with the federal government without fear of being penalized by the law. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said he plans to appeal. Lawmakers in Iowa, Ohio, Georgia and other states are weighing similar legislation, with supporters saying the bills are aimed at stopping law enforcement from helping the federal government apply gun restrictions. The Missouri law has had far-reaching consequences. Some law enforcement agencies in the state have pulled out of federal task forces for fear they could run afoul of the law. Opponents say it is expansive enough to strip law enforcement of federal help and funding on a range of issues. The Second Amendment Preservation Act has separately been challenged by the city of St. Louis, and Jackson and St. Louis counties.

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