Jefferson City, MO – Missouri law enforcement agencies started quietly removing their officers from federal gun crime investigations after the state’s Second Amendment Preservation Act was signed into law in June.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed off on House Bill 85 in front of a gun store on June 12, KRDO reported.
HB 85 prohibits state and local law enforcement from cooperating with enforcement of federal gun laws that violate citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
“Throughout my law enforcement career and now as Governor of the state of Missouri, I have and always will stand for the Constitution and our Second Amendment rights,” Parson said, according to KYTV.
“This legislation today 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,” he declared.
“It is our time to protect the Second Amendment,” Parson added, according to KRDO. “This is exactly what this bill does and it’s time to get this thing signed and get it made into law.”
Under the new law, state and local law enforcement officers in Missouri are prohibited from cooperating with federal officials if they are trying to enforce any orders, rules, laws, or actions that violate citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment.
Any agency or officer who knowingly enforces or assists in enforcing laws that deprive Missourians of their Second Amendment rights could be subject to a $50,000 lawsuit, KRDO reported.
“We are making sure that whatever President [Joe] Biden does by executive order, we are not going to enforce,” Missouri State Senator Eric Burlison, who co-sponsored HB 85, said. “In essence, by signing this bill today, we are telling President Biden to go pound sand.”
After the bill was signed into law, federal law enforcement agencies began reaching out to state and local partners to find out who would still be working with them, The Kansas City Star reported.
At least two law enforcement agencies have already pulled officers from assignments with federal gun task forces.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Lieutenant Eric Brown said the state patrol had removed four troopers from a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) task force, The Kansas City Star reported.
Lt. Brown said that one of the troopers had been assigned full-time to the ATF, and the other three had participated in the task force only part-time.
“With the passage of HB 85, Patrol members can continue to serve on federal task forces except where the task force’s primary focus is on weapons violations,” the lieutenant explained.
O’Fallon Police Operations Division Captain Derek Myers wrote in an email that his department had pulled the two K9 officers “who were deputized to ATF on an as-needed basis,” according to emails obtained by The Kansas City Star.
Former O’Fallon Police Chief Philip Dupuis ordered the department’s withdrawal from federal investigations before he resigned over what he said was the new law’s “poor wording and future unintended consequences.”
Before he resigned, Chief Dupuis ordered “a temporary retraction… until further notice” of all of the O’Fallon police officers assigned to federal agencies or federal-led task forces, The Kansas City Star reported.
Chief Dupuis wrote that the move was “being taken on advice of legal counsel.”
O’Fallon police clarified to The Kansas City Star that non-ATF federal task force officers will remain “in place with restrictions.”
The department has two officers assigned to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), one assigned to postal crimes, and another assigned to work with federal cybercrimes investigators.
HB 85’s co-sponsor, Missouri State Representative Jared Taylor, said law enforcement agencies in the state wouldn’t have a problem or need to pull out officers unless the Biden administration and Congress passed over-reaching gun control laws, The Kansas City Star reported.
“Law enforcement is still going to be able to work with federal partners, after working months and months with law enforcement across the state to make sure we had a bill that not only protect Second Amendment rights but make sure law enforcement is still able to do their job,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he expected police would be able to keep federal partnerships and rewrite agreements to specify the restrictions of the new state law.
Missouri Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Kevin Merritt said some law enforcement officers feel a “chilling effect” from fear of lawsuits under the new law, The Kansas City Star reported.
“What does it mean if you cooperate with [federal agents investigating a] bank robbery and the primary investigation is centered around the robbery, well, there’s an enhanced penalty at the federal level to commit it with use of a firearm?” Merritt asked. “If local law enforcement helps with that and anyone believes that that firearm wasn’t ‘ancillary,’ and the sheriff’s office helped take the gun away from the Missouri citizen, now they can sue.”
Kevin Jamison, attorney and co-founder of the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance, said it would be exceedingly rare for agencies to refuse to cooperate with their federal counterparts, NPR reported.
“The only case that would come up is when feds need assistance from local law enforcement as reinforcements to confiscate guns,” Jamison said.
St. Louis city and county filed a lawsuit to stop the Second Amendment Preservation Act from going into effect almost as soon as it was passed, The Kansas City Star reported.
Other municipalities have also expressed an interest in joining the complaint, NPR reported.
“I think that this is a reckless piece of legislation,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “It is one of the supremely bad ideas in a year of bad ideas, and I would hope that a court strikes it down, ultimately.”