Justice Dept. Says Missouri’s Gun Law Hobbles Drug and Weapons Inquiries

Justice Dept. Says Missouri’s Gun Law Hobbles Drug and Weapons Inquiries

A new state law in Missouri that prevents local law enforcement from working with federal agents on gun cases is already hampering joint drug and weapons investigations, the Justice Department said in a court document filed Wednesday that was obtained by The New York Times. The Second Amendment Preservation Act , which was passed by Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature in May, is among the most extreme state gun rights bills enacted in recent years, imposing a $50,000 penalty on any local sheriff’s office or police department that “tries to enforce” federal firearms laws instead of abiding by less restrictive state statutes. The law does not go into effect until Aug. 28, but it has already had a serious chilling effect on cooperation between local and federal authorities, according to testimony from federal agents included in a document filed to support an effort by the City of St. Louis to strike down the law in state court. The Missouri law, known as HB85, “has caused, and will continue to cause, significant harms to law enforcement within the State of Missouri,” wrote Brian M. Boynton, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division, along with the two top federal prosecutors in the state. “HB85 undermines law enforcement activities in Missouri, including valuable partnerships federal agencies have developed with state and local jurisdictions,” they added. “It is also plainly unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause.” While the document, known as a “statement of interest of the United States,” makes it clear that the […]

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