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Missouri’s SAPA still standing after judge rejects attempts to block it

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Cole County judge denied a request to block Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA) which seeks to “invalidate” certain federal gun laws that could restrict ownership.

Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green sided with the state the day before the law is set to be implemented. St. Louis and Jackson counties had sued, asking the court to find SAPA unconstitutional. 

“Today’s ruling was an important victory for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office over the Biden Department of Justice, and for the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians,” Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “Since the Second Amendment Preservation Act was passed, I promised to fiercely defend the law and Missourians’ Second Amendment rights — that’s exactly what we did in this case and will continue to do moving forward.”

Set to go into effect Aug. 28, SAPA declares federal laws that could restrict gun ownership among law-abiding Missourians as “invalid.” It also dictated law enforcement officers cannot enforce federal firearm regulations that could be deemed invalid under the law, holding the departments financially liable if they do so.  

The new law quickly drew the attention of the federal government: Schmitt and Gov. Mike Parson faced off with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) while the federal agency called on the court to strike down the law last week. The statement of interest said the measure violated the federal Supremacy Clause and decried the negative impact it could have on law enforcement. 

Frederic Winston, the special agent leading the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Kansas City Field Division, also sounded off on the bill’s effect on law enforcement in a declaration filed with the court. He asserted looming risks associated with SAPA had led to the withdrawal of one dozen state and local officers, including from the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Columbia and Sedalia police departments, from ATF operations. 

I am happy that the judge ruled in our favor today but I’m sure this ruling isn’t the end of the litigation,” Rep. Jered Taylor, the bill sponsor, told The Missouri Times. “I look forward to continued success in court on legislation designed to protect law-abiding gun-owners in Missouri.”

“Missouri is not attempting to nullify federal law. Instead, Missouri is defending its people from federal government overreach by prohibiting state and local law enforcement agencies from being used by the federal government to infringe Missourians’ right to keep and bear arms,” Parson and Schmitt have said. 

In his judgment, Green said the plaintiffs had pointed to at least two pending cases involving them regarding SAPA. He said the constitutional issues raised should be “litigated (if at all) by each plaintiff in each separate case.”

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