DOJ sues Missouri to block gun law

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Wednesday, the Justice Department asked a U.S. district judge to prevent Missouri from enforcing a new law that negated certain federal gun laws within the borders of that state.

House Bill 85 was passed last June and has been the subject of criticism, warnings, and lawsuits from the DOJ ever since

“Time and again, the Biden Administration has put partisan politics ahead of public safety,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement. “Make no mistake, the law is on our side in this case, and I intend to beat the Biden Administration in court once again.”

The bill “declares as invalid all federal laws that infringe on the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution.”

Among the federal laws H.B. 85 cancelled were those dealing with taxes, registration and tracking, confiscation orders, and “certain prohibitions on the possession, ownership, use, or transfer of a specific type of firearm.”

Beyond nullifying federal law, H.B. 85 makes it illegal for state law enforcement to assist the federal government in investigating crimes rendered invalid by the law, with fines of $50,000 for officers or agents who attempt to enforce an invalidated law.

The DOJ argues H.B. 85 runs contrary to the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, the section of the nation’s governing document that makes federal law the supreme law of the land.

“A state cannot simply declare federal laws invalid,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in a release. “This act makes enforcement of federal firearms laws difficult and strains the important law enforcement partnerships that help keep violent criminals off the street.”

Beyond seeking an injunction, DOJ has requested the district court clarify that federal law supersedes that of Missouri and that Missouri law enforcement officials are allowed to investigate or cooperate in the federal investigation of gun crime.

In the complaint, attorneys for the Justice Department argue, “H.B. 85 has endangered public safety—and the United States’ efforts to promote public safety—by imperiling the successful partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that are critical to fighting violent crime within Missouri.”

“This act impedes criminal law enforcement operations in Missouri,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “The United States will work to ensure that our state and local law enforcement partners are not penalized for doing their jobs to keep our communities safe.”

Schmitt accused the federal government of seeking to undermine a state-level crime fighting initiative and of attacking Missourians’ Second Amendment rights.

“[The] Biden Department of Justice has now filed yet another partisan lawsuit that seeks to attack Missourians’ Second Amendment rights,” Schmitt said. “Unfortunately, the Biden DOJ has used this lawsuit as a pretext for them to pull the plug on our successful and innovative federal-state crime fighting partnership, the Safer Streets Initiative.”

First introduced in 2019, Schmitt’s Safer Streets Initiative included a measure that created a partnership between his office and the DOJ. Under this agreement, attorneys from Schmitt’s office were deputized as U.S. attorneys as a means of prosecuting violent crime.

According to a report from the Associated Press, the DOJ removed itself from that partnership on Friday.