JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (April 30, 2021) – On Tuesday, the full Missouri Senate debated a bill that would take on federal gun control; past, present and future. Passage into law would represent a major step toward ending federal acts that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms within the state.
Sen. Eric Burlison (R-Battlefield) filed Senate Bill 39 (SB39) on Dec. 1. Titled the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” (SAPA), the legislation would ban any entity or person, including any public officer or employee of the state and its political subdivisions, from enforcing any past, present or future federal “acts, laws, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances” that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. The bill includes a detailed definition of actions that qualify as “infringement.”
During the floor debate, substitute language was introduced to bring SB39 into conformity with the House version recently passed by the Senate General Laws Committee. According to Ron Calzone with Missouri First, “It retains all the accountability provisions, or ‘teeth.'”
Calzone said the floor session went “very well.” You can listen to the floor debate HERE starting around the 53-minute mark.
“It’s typical for bills dealing with hot issues to spend multiple sessions in Senate floor debate before passage, and SAPA is no different,” Calzone said.
There were no credible arguments presented against SB39. Calzone called the debate presented by a few Democrats “such an embarrassment that other Democrats may want to distance themselves from that effort.”
Calzone explained one of the technical moves attempted by Democratic opposition.
Near the end of the audio you will notice that an amendment is offered that would make it illegal for anyone on the “No Fly List” to buy a firearm. Sen. Burlison then offers a “Point of Order” in objection. The audio goes silent while the Senate Rules Committee considers the Point of Order.
The intent of the amendment offered by Senator Beck was to embarrass SAPA supporters who vote against the amendment. They would be accused of wanting terrorists to have guns.
Rep. Jered Taylor and Sen. Eric Burlison, the sponsors of SAPA, anticipated these sorts of attacks and build a defense against them into the bill’s title, which says the bill they filed is for “the sole purpose of adding additional protections to the right to bear arms.”
That bill title invokes a little known legal doctrine brought to the forefront in a recent Missouri Supreme Court case called Calzone v. DESE, in which the Supreme Court said that when a bill’s title includes a statement that the bill is for the “sole purpose” of some particular or detail, those particulars or details define the purpose of the bill and that purpose can not be expanded.
In the case of SAPA, the purpose is to protect gun rights. Since Beck’s amendment was outside that purpose, it was going to be ruled out of order. He withdrew his amendment.
Calzone praised Republican leadership in the Senate.
“It was made very clear to all that they intend to do whatever it takes to pass SAPA. As one friend put it, they sent the message, ‘Resistance is futile.’ It’s clear to me that the prospects of the Senate passing SAPA next week are VERY GOOD.”
Passage of SAPA in Missouri would take a major step toward ending the enforcement of federal gun control in the Show-Me State. The federal government relies heavily on state cooperation to implement and enforce almost all of its laws, regulations and acts – including gun control. By simply withdrawing this necessary cooperation, states and localities can nullify many federal actions in effect. As noted by the National Governors’ Association during the partial government shutdown of 2013, “states are partners with the federal government on most federal programs.”
Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” represents an extremely effective method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership from state and local governments.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.
“Partnerships don’t work too well when half the team quits,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “By withdrawing all resources and participation in federal gun control, states and even local governments can help bring these unconstitutional acts to their much-needed end.”
The state of Missouri can legally bar state agents from enforcing federal gun control. Refusal to cooperate with federal enforcement rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine.
Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program. The anti-commandeering doctrine is based primarily on five Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. Printz v. U.S. serves as the cornerstone.
“We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty”
SB39 needs to be brought up for a vote in the Senate as soon as possible. If you live in Missouri, contact your state Senator and politely but firmly urge them to vote yes. You can find your Senator’s contact information HERE.