JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (May 14, 2021) – In the culmination of eight years of work, today, the Missouri House gave final approval to a bill that would end state and local enforcement of a wide range of federal gun control measures; past, present and future. Enactment of this bill into law would represent a major step toward ending federal acts that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms within the state.
Rep. Jered Taylor filed House Bill 85 (HB85) 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 companion bills were sponsored and carried by Rep. Bishop Davidson and Sen. Eric Burlison.
“One fundamental feature of our government is the separation of powers,” said Davidson on the House floor today. “I hope that this bill is just one step towards restoring that balance.”
“We are doing this bill because the 2nd Amendment is under attack,” said Taylor. “This bill is gun policy agnostic. We are saying in our state, we know what’s best for our state.”
HB85 passed the House in February by a 103-43 vote. After being stalled for weeks and clearing a big hurdle to get a committee hearing and vote, and a long filibuster attempt by Democrats Thursday night, the Senate approved the measure by a 24-10 vote with some amendments. In one of its final acts of the 2021 session, the House gave final approval today by a 111-42 vote.
HB85 will now go to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk for his consideration.
Passage of SAPA is the culmination of eight years of effort by grassroots activists in Missouri, led by Ron Calzone at Missouri First. In 2013, then-Governor Jay Nixon vetoed an early incarnation of the Second Amendment Preservation Act. Ultimately, the House overrode the veto but it failed in the Senate by one vote. In subsequent years, similar bills ran into insurmountable hurdles including intense law enforcement opposition and Republican leadership too squeamish to take a stand against the feds.
But activists and supporters of the Second Amendment in the Show-Me State kept pushing, and with the leadership and support of Dave Roland at the Freedom Center of Missouri, they kept improving the legislation and pressuring legislators. Today, that hard work and perseverance paid off.
DETAILS OF THE LEGISLATION
The bill includes a detailed definition of actions that qualify as “infringement,” including but not limited to:
- taxes and fees on firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition not common to all other goods and services that would have a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;
- registration and tracking schemes applied to firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition;
- any act forbidding the possession, ownership, or use or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition by law-abiding citizens;
- any act ordering the confiscation of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition from law-abiding citizens.
The proposed law defines a “law-abiding citizen” as “a person who is not otherwise precluded under state law from possessing a firearm.”
Under the proposed law, infringement on the right to keep and bear arms would include the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968. Pres. Trump’s bump-stock ban, proposed federal “red-flag laws,” and any future gun control schemes implemented by the federal government.
The legislation includes a provision that would allow anybody who violates the law and knowingly deprives somebody of their right to keep and bear arms as defined by the law to be sued for damages in civil court.
Law enforcement agencies and political subdivisions in Missouri would be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $50,000 for enforcing or attempting to enforce any of the infringements outlined by the law or for giving material aid and support to such enforcement efforts.
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”
No determination of constitutionality is necessary to invoke the anti-commandeering doctrine. State and local governments can refuse to enforce federal laws or implement federal programs whether they are constitutional or not.
Gov. Parson will have 45 days from the date HB85 is transmitted to his office to sign or veto the bill. If he takes no action, it will become law without his signature. With an emergency clause approved by both chambers, the bill will go into immediate effect.