Missouri gun rights law hinders criminal investigations, Justice Department says

Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, signed the Second Amendment Preservation Act in June. The city of Saint-Louis filed a complaint to block the law soon after.

The law, which is expected to come into effect later this month, “prohibits state and local cooperation with federal officials who attempt to enforce laws, rules, ordinances or actions that violate the rights of the Second Amendment of Missourians, ”according to Parson’s office. .

Under the law, “Federal excesses protections are triggered if federal officials attempt to violate the state or federal constitution. Further, the bill recognizes that the right to own and bear arms is fundamental and inalienable “, according to the governor’s office.

In its expression of interest filed with the court on Wednesday, the Justice Department said: “Among other things, the new law prohibits local law enforcement agencies from participating in federal task forces and purports to prohibit local police enforce federal firearms laws. “

“Under the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution, the state of Missouri does not have the power to overrule federal laws,” the department said.

Missouri has seen more than 8,000 gun crimes so far this year and 218 homicides, 74% of which involved a firearm, according to a statement from Frederic D. Winston, a senior expert with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco. , Kansas City-based Firearms and Explosives. responsible agent, which was filed with the court. Winston’s role, in part, is to limit illegal access to guns to prevent further violent crime in the state.

“SAPA has damaged law enforcement and public safety in Missouri,” Winston wrote.

Since the law was passed, according to Winston, a dozen state and local officials have withdrawn from collaborative working groups.

“By removing state and local officials from ATF working groups, ATF is no longer able to perform its functions as effectively, including prevention, investigation and prosecution assistance. violent offenders. These state and local officials are essential members of ATF law enforcement efforts, “Winston wrote.

In addition, according to Winston, the Missouri Information Analysis Center, which collects reports of suspicious activity to identify possible terrorist or criminal operations, told the ATF it will no longer provide investigative support to the agency. , and to several national and local law enforcement agencies. agencies say they will no longer put data into an interstate ballistic imaging network.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday on the underlying lawsuit.

Mark M. Gagnon