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Federal judge allows Missouri ban on enforcing federal gun laws to stay in place while state appeals

(File photo)
Scott Canon
Kansas News Service
(File photo)

Missouri is appealing a federal judge’s decision striking down the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which allows citizens to file suit for up to $50,000 if they believe that police enforcement of federal gun laws violated their right to keep and bear arms.

A federal judge who struck down a controversial gun law as unconstitutional said on Thursday that the state law will temporarily remain in effect while Missouri appeals his decision.

U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes on Tuesday ruled that a Missouri law banning all federal gun laws was unconstitutional because it violated the constitutional standard that federal law trumps state law. The Missouri statute is an “unconstitutional (violation of) federal law and is designed to be just that,” Wimes wrote.

On Thursday, Wimes ordered an administrative stay, which keeps the Missouri law in place temporarily while the state takes its case to a higher court, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Wimes said he would give the state the time even though he thinks clarity on whether the state law is in effect should help law enforcement on “how they see themselves and what they should be doing.”

Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act allows citizens to file suit for up to $50,000 if they believe that enforcement of federal gun laws violates their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

But Wimes warned that the state should move quickly with the appeal and that his stay would not be extended “further and further.”

“Time is of the essence,” Wimes said.

Josh Divine, the Missouri solicitor general, said he was concerned about the “whiplash” local governments would experience given the law’s status since Wimes’ earlier decision.

“There are a lot of people across the state and in the federal government who are interested in what’s going on here,” he said.

But Daniel Schwei, an attorney representing the U.S. Justice Department, told Wimes that he doesn’t believe the state will be successful in its appeal and that there are already “significant public safety harms” with the ongoing implementation of the law.

Some local governments in Missouri have fought the law since it was signed by Gov. Mike Parson in front of a Kansas City gun shop in June 2021. It was quickly appealed by local officials in Kansas City and St. Louis, and was criticized by the U.S. Justice Departmentwhich argued the law was causing “significant harm” to law enforcement and public safety.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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