With the stroke of his pen, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) made the Show Me State a sanctuary from federal gun laws. No longer will Missouri law enforcement officials be allowed to enforce — or help the feds enforce — federal firearms rules.
But the move is not sitting well with President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice, which made its displeasure known in a letter to Parson this week, telling the governor that a state does not have the authority to prevent the enforcement of federal law, the Associated Press reported.
What does the law do?
Much like cities and states that have declared they will not enforce federal immigration laws, Missouri has declared it will protect its citizens from what is sees as federal “overreach” when it comes to gun rights.
The Second Amendment Preservation Act prohibits police from enforcing or assisting federal authorities in enforcing federal gun rules. It also allows for anyone who believes his Second Amendment rights were violated by an officer enforcing federal laws to sue the relevant police department for $50,000, the Kansas City Star said.
When Parson, a former sheriff, signed the bill into law, he said he was sending a message to the feds in response to increased federal gun control regulations that are being pushed by the Biden administration.
“We’re going to do things to make sure you don’t overreach your authority from the federal government,” he said, according to KCUR-FM.
How did the DOJ respond?
In a letter sent Wednesday night, the AP said, Justice Department officials told Missouri’s elected leadership that the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause supersedes Missouri’s law.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton said in the letter that the new law “threatens to disrupt the working relationship between fedral and local authorities,” the AP reported.
“The public safety of the people of the United States and citizens of Missouri is paramount,” Boynton wrote.
According to the DOJ, Missouri lacks any authority to shield Missourians from federal law or to prevent law enforcement from carrying out federal laws.
Neither the DOJ letter nor the AP report on the letter bothered to mention that multiple state and local jurisdictions have declared themselves immigration sanctuary cities and are currently barring law enforcement from enforcing federal laws.
HotAir’s Ed Morrissey pointed out that both the AP and DOJ were apparently incapable of understanding the point Parson was clearly making:
That’s the context which the AP misses, but it as plain as the nose on one’s face. If Parson had signed a bill declaring Missouri an immigration sanctuary state, Garland and the DoJ wouldn’t have batted an eye about it. And yet, the same principle is true — states that ignore and refuse to cooperate with federal immigration law violate the Supremacy Clause, put public safety at risk, and should risk federal grants and technical assistance on that basis as well.
Amusingly, however, the AP never even mentions immigration or sanctuary status in its report. That is not just the clear context of Parson’s move, it’s also the precedent on which it’s based. The Obama-Biden administration did nothing to discourage cities and states from refusing to cooperate with federal law on immigration; neither Eric Holder nor Loretta Lynch sent scolding reminders about the Supremacy Clause to the leaders of sanctuary cities and states.
The DOJ, Morrissey noted, is “awfully arbitrary about when they choose to get their panties in a twist” over the Supremacy Clause.