Missouri Second Amendment Preservation Act

BY Herschel Smith
1 month, 1 week ago

News from Missouri (this link may or may not work, it’s a paywall NYT article accessed via Google News via cell phone).

OZARK, Mo. — Brad Cole is a fiery defender of the Second Amendment, a set-jawed lawman with a lacquered alligator head on his desk, a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum on his hip and a signed picture of himself with former President Donald J. Trump on his office wall.

Sheriff Cole, of Christian County, considers himself part of the constitutional sheriff movement, which contends that the federal government is subordinate to local authorities in most law-enforcement matters. Yet this year he found himself in the unusual position of pushing back against Republican state lawmakers ramming through a bill to punish local departments for collaborating with federal authorities on gun cases deemed to be in violation of Second Amendment rights.

Anytime you take away a tool from us to do our job and protect the people we serve, well, I’m going to have a huge problem with that,” said Sheriff Cole, a Republican who worked with several other sheriffs from deep-red southern Missouri to modify the bill before it passed in May on a party-line vote.

“It’s just a terribly written law,” he said.

So the NYT found themselves somebody they think can give their case creds by describing him as some sort of local yokel who supports gun rights and voted for Trump.  But it’s a “terribly written law.”  Let’s see how so.

Even with the changes, the Second Amendment Preservation Act represents a challenge to federal authority that Biden administration officials and other critics see as a clear-cut violation of the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which prohibits states from passing laws that nullify federal statutes.

Last month, the Justice Department filed an affidavit supporting an effort by the city and county of St. Louis to strike down the law in state court, saying it had already hamstrung weapons and drug investigations. The judge in the case recently rejected a request to keep the law from going into effect, and, in response, Attorney General Merrick Garland is considering a federal lawsuit, according to two administration officials.

That’s a splash of cold water, yes?  Biden and his AG hate the law.  Weapons and drug investigations.  Remember that.

At the heart of the law is an audacious declaration — that all state firearms laws “exceed” the federal government’s power to track, register and regulate guns and gun owners.

The law, however, is as vague as it is expansive: Its authors did not focus on any specific federal law or policy, and state officials say they will not try to stop federal agents from executing raids, conducting background checks for gun buyers or enforcing existing laws, like the prohibition on gun purchases by felons.

They’re “poisoning the well,” an informal logical fallacy, and they know it.  Missouri FFLs still conduct background checks, and the NYT is trying to assert that this law makes it legal for convicted felons to own firearms.  Let’s continue.

But the law features a provision, the first of its kind in the nation, that allows Missourians to sue local law departments that give “material aid and support” to federal agents — defined as data sharing, joint operations, even social media posts — in violation of citizens’ perceived Second Amendment rights.

The law’s sponsors say that mechanism is protective and proactive, intended to counter Democratic gun-control efforts, especially President Biden’s attempts to ban semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. As one of its co-authors, State Senator Eric Burlison, put it, the bill was intended to tell Democrats considering new restrictions to “pound sand.”

After the misdirect, they get to the meat of the thing.  The law was intended to ensure that new infringements on the second amendment are nullified by virtue of lawsuits unique to Missouri where individual citizens go after LEOs.  I think it’s a brilliant idea, worthy of acceptance in every state.

Chief among the activists pushing the Missouri gun law was Aaron Dorr, who leads a family-run, Iowa-based network of far-right nonprofits in the Midwest and South. In an interview, Mr. Dorr described himself as a defender of conservative values and cast the Missouri battle in national terms, as an effort to force Republican moderates to take up his broader cause of confronting Washington.

“Obviously, it’s about far more than simply gun rights,” Mr. Dorr said of his involvement.

At least eight other states, including West Virginia, have recently passed similar bills, but most are more symbolic and less far-reaching than Missouri’s, and feature more explicit carve-outs for coordination between local and federal law-enforcement agencies. The Missouri law has the sharpest teeth: the provision allowing citizens to sue any local police agency for $50,000 for every incident in which they can prove that their rights were violated, provided they were not flouting state law.

That reliance on citizens’ lawsuits — bypassing police officers and prosecutors who may be reluctant to pursue highly politicized criminal cases — represents another political strategy gaining popularity on the right, most notably in the highly restrictive Texas abortion law that the Supreme Court recently let stand.

The Missouri law only went into effect at the end of August. But its critics, at home and in Washington, say it has already done damage, making some local officials afraid to work with federal partners, even on routine criminal cases, at a time when greater cooperation is needed.

“But its critics, at home and in Washington, say it has already done damage, making some local officials afraid to work with federal partners, even on routine criminal cases, at a time when greater cooperation is needed.”  Good.  Local and state law enforcement has no business cooperating with the FedGov on infringement of 2A rights.  This means that the law has served its purpose.

In that respect, it is also testing the limits of one-party Republican state rule: The National Rifle Association, a bedrock Republican-allied institution, did not support the bill, and many local law-enforcement officials fear it will impinge on their ability to fight violent crime and stop drug trafficking. (Sheriff Cole ultimately accepted the political inevitability of the bill’s passage, but says he remains deeply concerned about its consequences.)

Some of those consequences were detailed in the Justice Department’s affidavit.

Nearly a quarter of state and local law-enforcement officials who work directly with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — 12 of 53 officers — have withdrawn from joint task force collaborations. State and local agencies have also begun to restrict federal access to investigative resources, including the Missouri Information Analysis Center, a state crime database, and the Kansas City Police Department’s records system.

Did you catch that?  Read it again.  The NRA did not support the bill.

The police department in Columbia, home to the flagship campus of the University of Missouri, went so far as to disconnect from a national database of ballistics on weapons and ammunition recovered at crime scenes, A.T.F. officials reported.

The law, “has caused, and will continue to cause, significant harms to law enforcement within the state of Missouri,” wrote Brian M. Boynton, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division.

Again, all I can say is good.

Mr. Dorr has long drawn scrutiny for his far-right positions on abortion and guns and name-calling tirades against opponents (an unflattering portrait of his family’s organization was the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning NPR podcast in 2020). Critics from across the ideological spectrum have accused him of latching onto political controversies, especially resistance to mask orders related to the pandemic, to raise cash for his network.

Mr. Dorr has few compunctions about calling out the N.R.A. — he said it was a “public disgrace” in the interview with The New York Times — and as the gun bill was moving through the legislature, he ridiculed Republicans who did not immediately sign on. As his supporters bombarded lawmakers with emails and phone calls, he labeled one wavering Senate leader a “rodent” in one of his characteristic Hannity-esque Facebook Live broadcasts.

“He ridiculed Republicans who did not immediately sign on.”  Good.  They deserved to be ridiculed.

The Missouri Sheriffs’ Association had quietly opposed the measure, but now intervened to negotiate a compromise. It dispatched several red-county sheriffs, including Sheriff Cole, to persuade sponsors to direct penalties at local departments rather than at officers.

The revised bill passed the Senate in May, as the session was set to end — but not before the majority leader, Caleb Rowden, an eventual yes vote, requested police protection after reporting threats from backers of the bill.

Lauren Arthur, a Democratic senator from the Kansas City area who opposed the bill, said that since the vote she had been approached by Republicans privately expressing hope that it would be struck down in court.

“Republicans around here need to have some kind of legislation they can hold up as a trophy at the end of every session — the dark joke is it is either on abortion or on guns,” said Ms. Arthur, who led an unsuccessful effort to ban gun sales to people convicted of domestic-violence offenses.

Well how about that.  Nothing says liar and cheat like someone who wants to hold high a piece of trophy legislation for the sake of reelection, when they don’t really believe in it and want it to fail.

She added, “I’m not creative enough to think of what else we can do to be more pro-gun other than, I don’t know, giving a gun to every newborn baby.”

Drama queen.

In mid-June, the police chief in O’Fallon, a St. Louis suburb, quit in frustration, writing in an open letter that the new law was so “poorly worded” that it would “decrease public safety” by stigmatizing all interactions with federal agents. Even some who supported its passage started voicing concerns.

Good.  The law took its first victim, and a worthy one at that.

Many sheriffs rely on close collaboration with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the F.B.I. and the U.S. Marshals Service’s fugitive task forces, among other agencies, to help track down criminals. The biggest problem, they say, has been determining which joint investigations run afoul of the new law.

Here’s an idea.  Stop cooperating with FedGov at all.  That’ll fix the problem for you.

As I said earlier, the law is working as intended, and that’s a laudable thing.


  1. On September 12, 2021 at 9:45 pm, Fred said:

    The so called supremacy clause was only to grant fedgov supremacy over the VERY limited set of authorities granted it BY THE STATES, which retained power to remove said grants through amendment.

    But whatever, the ship has sailed, sunk, and been beaten to death a million times. You’re on your own. It’s you and whatever band of like minded folks and kinfolks you can muster. That’s all you have and all you ever had.

  2. On September 12, 2021 at 11:47 pm, George 1 said:

    One reason the locals love the BATF and the FBI is because the feds pass out all kinds of grants and other goodies to the State and local PDs. If you can’t “work” with the fed agencies then much of the cheese goes away.

  3. On September 13, 2021 at 8:19 am, Frank Clarke said:

    Since almost everything the fedgov has done in the past 175 years is clearly outside the scope of Article I, Section 8, it’s unconstitutional and thus not ‘law’ at all. NOBODY should be enforcing that.

  4. On September 13, 2021 at 8:50 am, Chris Mallory said:

    George, it is not only the grants and giveaways. The locals love involving the Feds because it gives them a workaround for state laws limiting civil asset forfeiture. The locals find some money, guns, or vehicles they want, so they bring the Feds in who take a cut of the haul off the top then give the rest to the locals.

    I am a Constitutional absolutist. I see no exceptions to the Bill of Rights. In the main body of the Constitution, other than the UCMJ, the Feds are only given authority over 3 crimes: Counterfeiting, Treason, and Piracy on the high seas. For a limited number of years they had authority over alcohol, but that amendment was repealed. The Commerce Clause was meant solely to deal with actions taken by the states that harm interstate commerce, not what light bulbs you can buy or what substances you can use to medicate yourself.

    And no, local sheriffs and local law enforcement are no where mentioned in the Constitution. That is a matter for the several states.

  5. On September 13, 2021 at 9:20 am, George 1 said:

    Chris Mallory, It is indeed a rotten system the government has evolved.

    I remember what Strom Thurmond famously asked Senator Ted Kennedy. This was at a hearing in response to some stupid Federal power grab that Kennedy wanted and Thurmond was opposed to:

    ” Senator Kennedy. Is there anything the Federal government can’t do based on the Interstate Commerce Clause?”

  6. On September 13, 2021 at 2:54 pm, scott s. said:

    It is a throw-back to the personal liberty laws enacted in northern states in the 1850s after passage of the revised fugitive slave act. The laws prohibited state officials from cooperating with US Marshals tasked under the FSA with assisting slave owners in recovering their “property”. The failure of states to assist the feds in rounding up slaves was cited as a just cause for secession.

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You are currently reading "Missouri Second Amendment Preservation Act", entry #28132 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) BATFE,Gun Control and was published September 12th, 2021 by Herschel Smith.

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