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Jones, Page Take Second Amendment Preservation Act To Court

Mayor Tishaura Jones and County Executive Sam Page have filed suit against legislation that attempts to nullify federal gun laws in the state of Missouri.
Jason Rosenbaum
St. Louis Public Radio
Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page filed a joint lawsuit Monday challenging the constitutionality of Missouri's Second Amendment Preservation Act.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. June 21, with comments from Gov. Mike Parson.

A new law that seeks to nullify federal gun laws in Missouri is facing its first legal challenge.

St. Louis and St. Louis County jointly filed suit Monday asking a judge in Cole County to find the Second Amendment Preservation Act unconstitutional.

“This harmful and unconstitutional law takes away tools our communities need to prevent gun violence. I’m proud to partner with St. Louis County in this effort to protect our region and stop this law,” Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a statement.

County Executive Sam Page called the new law a sign that says “come commit gun violence here.”

“We can’t expect people to stay in St. Louis or to move their businesses here if we don’t do everything we can to reduce gun violence in the region, but this new law sends the opposite message to our residents and business community,” Page said.

SAPA, adopted on the last day of the legislative session andsigned by Gov. Mike Parson last week, prohibits local police from enforcing federal gun laws. Under it, citizens gain the right to sue cities whose law enforcement officers try to enforce federal gun restrictions, leading to fines that could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The 15-page lawsuit says SAPA violates the rights of St. Louis and St. Louis County to set their own powers. It also claims the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

“The effect of HB 85 on Plaintiffs and operation of [the city and county’s] law enforcement departments and staff are innumerable, and almost assuredly disastrous,” attorneys for the city and county wrote, citing participation in federal task forces and the National Integrated Ballistic Network.

The U.S. Department of Justice has already warned Parson that it believes SAPA is unconstitutional.

The law has led to a few changes in law enforcement. Over the weekend, Phillip Dupuis, the police chief in O’Fallon, Missouri, resigned, citing the law's “poor wording” and “unintended consequences.” And employees of the attorney general’s office who had been detached as federal prosecutors to handle gun cases in an effort known as “Safer Streets” have withdrawn from the cases.

Parson said in a written statement that he would "reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property."

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.