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Justices Block Missouri's Second Amendment Preservation Act

The Supreme Court has refused to reinstate an expansive Missouri law that restricted state and local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal gun laws and allowed lawsuits against law enforcement agencies that violated the state’s understanding of the Second Amendment, the New York Times reports. The court’s order gave no reasons, which is typical when the justices act on an emergency basis. Missouri's Second Amendment Preservation Act was enacted in 2021 and had several unusual provisions. One declared various kinds of federal laws, including ones requiring the registration of weapons and making gun dealers keep records, as “infringements on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.” A second provision prohibited the state from hiring former federal employees who had enforced such laws or given “material aid and support” to efforts to enforce them. A third allowed citizens to sue local police agencies for $50,000 for every incident in which they could prove that their right to bear arms had been violated.

Federal Judge Brian Wimes in Kansas City ruled in March that the Missouri law was “an impermissible nullification attempt” at odds with the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which prohibits states from enacting measures at odds with federal law. “While purporting to protect citizens,” Wimes wrote, the Missouri 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 Wimes expressed concern that some local and state police departments had withdrawn from joint federal task forces because of the law and refused to use weapons databases administered by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The judge put his own ruling on hold until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit decided whether to extend it. The appeals court lifted the stay last month, allowing Wimes’s decision to go into effect.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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