LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Republican Gov. Mike Parson on Saturday signed a bill banning local police from enforcing federal gun rules, a change Democrats have predicted will be shot down in the courts.
Parson signed the measure, which will penalize local police departments if their officers enforce federal gun laws, during a ceremony at a Kansas City-area shooting range and firearms store.
The governor, a former sheriff, said in a statement Saturday that the law "draws a line in the sand and demonstrates our commitment to reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property.”
Under the bill, Missouri agencies with police who knowingly enforce any federal laws could be sued and fined $50,000 per violating officer.
Most state and federal gun laws are the same anyway, and federal law enforcement could still enforce gun rules that are only in federal law.
Republican lawmakers who worked to pass the bill have said they’re motivated by the possibility of new federal gun restrictions under Democratic President Joe Biden and the Democratic-led U.S. House.
But Democrats warned that the measure unconstitutionally seeks to supersede federal laws and predicted it would be shot down by the courts.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade in a statement described the law as “radical, dangerous and obviously unconstitutional.”
“The new law even allows criminals who violate federal gun law to sue our local law enforcement officers for a minimum $50,000 fine if they in any way assist with federal investigations,” Quade said. “It quite literally defunds the police and gives that taxpayer money to convicted criminals.”
The Republican-led Legislature passed a similar bill in 2013 declaring that any federal policies that “infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms” shall be invalid in Missouri. It would have allowed state misdemeanor charges to be brought against federal authorities who attempted to enforce those laws or anyone who published the identity of a gun owner.
That bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat. The Legislature fell just shy of overriding Nixon's veto.