JEFFERSON CITY — In a letter to lawmakers Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said criminals will be able to sue police officers for enforcing federal gun-control laws in Missouri if the Second Amendment Preservation Act became law.
The bill would nullify all federal laws infringing on the right to bear arms, lower the age limit for concealed carry to 19, allow school districts to designate teachers and administration as "school protection officers" who must carry firearm at all times or be subject to potential termination, and make it a Class A misdemeanor to publish the names of firearm owners.
The General Assembly will vote on whether to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the gun legislation during the veto session next week.
Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, says he will vote against overriding Nixon’s veto. He said the vast majority of Missouri Democrats are against the bill.
"The bill is absolutely nuts," Webber said. "It's unconstitutional and everyone knows it. It is literally trying to turn the FBI, DEA and others into criminals, and that's crazy. Ninety percent of the House knows it's crazy, it's just a matter of whether people will stand up to it."
The bill pits state agencies against federal agencies and could be declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, Koster said.
"When a police officer in the city of St. Louis recovers a fully automatic machine gun from a drug dealer's car, should the matter no longer be sent to the U.S. Attorney's Office because the federal Gun Control Act of 1934 outlawed the weapon?" Koster asked in the letter to lawmakers.
He said federal courts would still closely scrutinize the bill even if it were overridden.
In 1958, the Supreme Court unanimously decided: "No state legislator or executive or judicial officer can wage war against federal constitution without violating his undertaking to support constitution."
"While state legislatures have occasionally sought to nullify various federal laws through history, the U.S. Supreme Court has shown no patience for these exercises," Koster said.
However, nullification has been used in other states-rights cases. Montana passed a similar law exempting locally manufactured guns that haven't left state borders from federal gun control laws, but the law was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Other states have passed nullification laws on marijuana sale and use.
In a response to Koster’s letter, House Speaker Tim Jones said he was "disappointed" the attorney general was siding with the governor.
"What he fails to acknowledge in his politically motivated letter is that the bill, at its core, seeks to affirm our rights as a state by pushing back against a federal government that has far exceeded the authority it was intended to have by our founding fathers," Jones said.
A two-thirds vote is needed in both the House and the Senate to override the governor's veto.
Supervising editors are Gary Castor and Stephanie Ebbs.