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St. Louis city, Jackson County get OK to challenge controversial gun law

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that St. Louis and Jackson County may challenge the constitutionality of a law passed last year barring Missouri police from enforcing federal gun regulations.

In a 6-1 decision, Missouri’s highest court sent a case about the Second Amendment Preservation Act back to Cole County Circuit Court. That’s where St. Louis and Jackson County previously tried to persuade a judge to block the law without success.

SAPA prevents Missouri police from cooperating with federal officials who attempt to enforce gun laws or regulations that are seen as an infringement on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. It allows anyone who believes their rights have been violated to sue police departments for up to $50,000.

SAPA has been widely criticized by law enforcement throughout the state who say the law complicates police work.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in a brief the law has caused 12 Missouri law enforcement agencies to end their partnerships with the bureau. The brief also stated the Missouri State Highway Patrol stopped participating in some federal investigations after the law was enacted. The Justice Department has also sharply criticized the law.

During oral arguments in February, Missouri Solicitor General D. John Sauer said the court didn’t need to hear the case yet because St. Louis and Jackson County did not argue the constitutionality of SAPA in the Cole County Court case.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that St. Louis and Jackson County can argue whether SAPA is legal, but must first have that argument in front of a Cole County judge before the state’s high court will consider the issue.

Judge Zel Fischer dissented, writing he would affirm the circuit court’s judgment to throw out the case and argued the challengers can challenge the law through other pending lawsuits.

This article by Kavahn Mansouri is published from The Missouri Independent through a Creative Commons license.

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