Missouri’s GOP-controlled legislature is expected to pass a bill in September that would nullify all federal gun laws, thus making it illegal for federal agents to enforce those laws in the state.
The statute would allow any Missourian arrested under federal firearm laws to sue their arresting officer, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
“It’s probably one of the best states’ rights issues that the country’s got going right now,” said Matt Wills, director of communications for the Missouri GOP.
The law makes it a misdemeanor for a journalist to publish any identifying information about gun owners. It also makes it misdemeanor for a federal agent to enforce federal gun laws that "infringe on the people's right to keep and bear arms."
Those charges could be punishable with up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The bill was vetoed this year by Gov. Jay Nixon (D), who said the bill infringes on the U.S. Constitution, stating that state law cannot take precedence over federal law and also limiting the First Amendment right of journalists.
A dozen Democrats are on board with Missouri Republicans and plan to help them override Nixon’s veto when the legislature meets again on Sept. 11. Many of them claim that voting no on the legislation, even though they don’t believe it would survive a court challenge, would be career ending, according to the Huffington Post.
The legislature is expected to go through with a push to defy federal power.
Richard G. Callahan, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, is worried that the legislature would go through with a push to defy federal power. Callahan told the Times that federal, state and local law enforcement officials worked together recently to seize 267 weapons and make 159 arrests.
He said the new law “would have outlawed such operations, and would have made criminals out of the law enforcement officers.”
Nixon was praised in the past by the National Rifle Association for supporting pro-gun legislation. The NRA has not weighed in the new bill. Possibly because, as Nixon put it in his veto, the supremacy of the federal government “is as logically sound as it is legally well established.”
“Our Constitution is not some cheap Chinese buffet where we get to pick the parts we like and ignore the rest,” said Rep. Jay Barnes, the only Republican against the bill in the House. “Two centuries of constitutional jurisprudence shows that this bill is plainly unconstitutional, and I’m not going to violate my oath of office.”
Minority floor leader and State Rep. Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis, said using time to vote on unconstitutional bills that won’t hold up in court is “a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
“We’re elected to serve the citizens of the state of Missouri, at the state level,” he said. “We were not elected to tell the federal government what to do — that’s why we have Congressional elections.”