Justice Department sues Missouri over federal gun laws
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Missouri on Wednesday in an attempt to stop officials from enforcing a bill that would ban local police from following federal gun laws that the state declared "invalid."
Why it matters: It alleges that Missouri's Second Amendment Preservation Act is unconstitutional and hindering law enforcement efforts in a state where "nearly 80% of violent crimes are committed with firearms," per a Justice Department statement. Missouri officials vowed to fight the suit, which they say attacks Second Amendment rights.
Driving the news: The bill, which was signed into law last June, penalizes federal, state and local law enforcement officers for enforcing federal laws, according to the Department of Justice.
- The statute also "penalizes current federal employees by barring them from state employment if they enforced the purportedly invalid laws," the DOJ added.
- "The statute further directs the state judiciary to 'protect' against the federal laws declared invalid."
What they're saying: Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the DOJ statement that the act "impedes criminal law enforcement operations in Missouri."
- Brian Boynton, who heads the DOJ's Civil Division, added, "A state cannot simply declare federal laws invalid.
- "This act makes enforcement of federal firearms laws difficult and strains the important law enforcement partnerships that help keep violent criminals off the street."
The other side: State Attorney General Eric Schmitt accused the DOJ in a statement of using the suit "as a pretext for them to pull ... our successful and innovative federal-state crime fighting partnership, the Safer Streets Initiative," whereby attorneys from his office were "deputized as assistant U.S. attorneys to help prosecute violent crimes," per AP.
- "Time and again, the Biden Administration has put partisan politics ahead of public safety," Schmitt added.
- "Make no mistake, the law is on our side in this case, and I intend to beat the Biden Administration in court once again."
Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Schmitt.