Missouri Supreme Court revives law enforcement challenge to state’s ‘Second Amendment Preservation Act’

The Missouri Supreme Court this week issued a ruling in an ongoing Second Amendment controversy that has left many law enforcement officials on pins and needles, wondering if they will retain the ability to do their jobs in the manner they see fit.

As St. Louis NBC affiliate station KSDK reports, the Missouri high court overturned a decision from a lower court that tossed a challenge to the Second Amendment Preservation Act, a contentious piece of legislation that has had police on edge since its passage last year.

According to that law, agencies in the state are prohibited from assisting the federal government in the enforcement of any rule, regulation, or law Missouri declares to be an infringement on the Second Amendment right to bear arms, with violations punishable by penalties of up to $50,000, as CBS News noted back in 2021.

Despite backing from Republicans in the state, a substantial number of police officers – including those who consider themselves to be conservatives – stood in opposition to the law, citing its potential to impede their ability to carry out the duties of their job.

As such, St. Louis, Jackson County, and St. Louis County police mounted a court challenge to the law out of fears that their entire departments or even individual officers would be at risk of hefty fines or incarceration if its terms were to remain in place. The U.S. Justice Department also filed suit in opposition to the law in a separate case.

Law enforcement agencies in the state leveled concerns that their members would no longer be free to enter into collaborative initiatives with the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI, or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track, register or prevent firearms transfers, an outcome that would significantly hinder their crime fighting capacity.

The local government agencies contend that the statute stands in direct violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which provides that in the event of a conflict, federal law takes precedence over laws passed by individual states.

Though a lower court judge previously declined to halt enforcement of the act, citing the unresolved nature of the two pending lawsuits relating to the law, the state Supreme Court this week saw things differently, determining that it was unfair to force the plaintiffs to wait until the conclusion of those cases for the concerns of officers and others to be addressed and emphasizing a need for immediate certainty – even if temporary – regarding the rights, statuses, and legal relationships at issue.

As such, the lower court judge must now reconsider the matter entirely, and with a deadline for motions in support of a re-hearing of the issues set for later this month, the eyes of Second Amendment advocates and foes alike will certainly be trained on Missouri for some time to come.