President Biden’s Justice Department is stepping up its fight against a new state law in Missouri that aims to invalidate many federal gun regulations, saying the measure has impeded law enforcement efforts to work with state and local police and is also unconstitutional.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department filed a statement of interest in an ongoing lawsuit in Cole County, Missouri, saying the state’s Second Amendment Preservation Act, also known as “HB85,” should be declared unconstitutional and that the court should issue an injunction barring its enforcement. “HB85 is legally invalid. Under the United States Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the State of Missouri has no power to nullify federal laws,” the department’s filing says.
In an accompanying sworn statement, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Frederic Winston said the new law “has already had a significant impact on ATF’s partnerships with state and local law enforcement offices,” noting that 12 of 53 state and local officers have withdrawn from participation in ATF task forces since the law’s enactment.
The Justice Department warned state officials in June that Missouri can’t ignore federal law, but Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt said they intended to still enforce the new law. In its filing with the Missouri court, the Justice Department warned the state’s law has already limited federal law enforcement’s access to “essential information” obtained through information-sharing networks such as the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, which allows investigators to match ballistics evidence with other cases nationwide.
Some jurisdictions have suggested they will limit data provided to the network because of the new state law. Prosecutors further argued that for private citizens and federal firearm licensees in Missouri, the law “creates confusion regarding the validity of federal firearm laws and federal enforcement authority.”
“HB85’s repudiation of federal authority threatens to provoke erroneous beliefs about and potentially opposition to federal agents performing their law enforcement duties, including executing search warrants, making arrests, and seizing firearms used in crimes,” they told the Missouri court.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK TIMES
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