Proposed bipartisan gun safety measures could test Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act

Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 7:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 13, 2022 at 7:12 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Over the weekend, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, including Missouri’s Roy Blunt, agreed on a narrow set of gun safety measures they hope to get approved by Congress.

It’s being hailed as a breakthrough, but it could also result in a significant battle for Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act, possibly in the court system.

The Senate group included 10 Republican and 10 Democrats working together to try and find some gun legislation that both sides could agree on in a move so rare that some are calling it the most significant legislative attempt to address the problem since the 1990s.

The exact wording of the proposed laws must still be worked out, and Congressional approval will undoubtedly be an uphill climb but the general areas agreed upon include:

-- giving incentives for states to set up red flag laws that would allow courts to take guns away from people deemed dangerous

-- make significant investments in mental health, suicide prevention, and school safety (which was Blunt’s key point of support)

-- prevents domestic violence offenders from purchasing guns

-- set up a mandatory review of juvenile and mental health records for gun buyers under the age of 21

As you would expect, reactions are varied. Some Democrats say the proposals don’t go far enough, and some Republicans wanted no part of any legislation that they believe curtails their Second Amendment rights.

So considering the deep partisan division over gun measures and the political stakes involved, Tom Carver, a Springfield attorney for 50 years and member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, says there’s only one thing you can be sure of.

“They’ll undoubtedly be lawsuits filed,” he said. “If this legislation in Washington passes, it will be considered by some to be an undue burden on gun owners because there has been a strong resistance to anything that even remotely seems like a restriction on people’s gun rights. So someone will want to contest the outcome if it passes.”

And Missouri could very well be right in the middle of it because last June, after Democrat Joe Biden took over as President, the state enacted the Second Amendment Preservation Act that bans state and local police officers from enforcing any federal gun laws that go beyond state statutes.

“At the end of the day, you can only serve one master,” said Republican State Senator Eric Burlison, one of the sponsors of the Second Amendment Preservation Act, at the time of its passage. “Our local law enforcement has one law to worry about. And that’s Missouri law. We will not be forced to be the enforcers of whatever crazy ideas this new administration has related to firearms.”

“It’s very obvious that this is stupid, frankly,” countered Democrat State Representative Peter Merideth in his opposition to the new law. “But it’s all to make a political statement of, ‘Hey, we’re Missouri! We value our guns!’”

Several gun advocacy groups rank Missouri among the most lenient states in the country in terms of gun protection laws. In the Show-Me-State, a gun can be bought and owned without a license, there are no state-required background checks or registrations, you can conceal and carry without a permit, and there are no ghost gun regulations.

So Carver expects Missouri to challenge any new federal laws beyond its state laws in court.

“Some politicians will be involved in litigation just because they think it’s a good campaign move for them,” he said. “Then there are others who will consider the federal laws too restrictive for the gun culture in Missouri.”

Generally speaking, if there’s a conflict between federal and state or local law, the federal law supersedes all the others. But what’s happened in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it will continue to be viewed that way.

“Throughout our history, until the late 20th century, the Second Amendment was more about regulating a militia and not individual gun owners,” Carver explained. “But over the past 30-40 years, that has really changed with the NRA and other organizations asserting those individual rights with the help of a friendly Supreme Court. And I think it will be even more friendly in the future.”

So when it comes to finding a reasonable solution that both sides can be happy with?

“Reason may have left the room a long time ago,” Carver replied.

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