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Taylor: SAPA will hold up in court

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — The Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA) is already sending a clear message to the federal government that Missouri will not enforce federal gun laws that infringe on Missourians’ rights, Rep. Jered Taylor said of his legislation after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to the state. 

Taylor said he believed the state to be on “great legal ground” with HB 85 which declares federal gun laws that could restrict gun ownership for “law-abiding citizens” as “invalid” in the state. He added he believes the new law, which Gov. Mike Parson signed Saturday “is going to hold up” should it be challenged in court. 

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton sent a letter to Parson and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt this week seeking clarification on HB 85. He also warned the new law could hamper relationships between the federal government and Missouri and noted the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause would allow federal laws to supersede state law. 

“HB 85 threatens to immediately disrupt the working relationship between federal and state law enforcement officers, many of whom work shoulder-to-shoulder on various joint task forces, for which Missouri receives ample federal grants and other technical assistance,” Boynton said. “In addition, HB 85 risks sowing confusion among both the regulated community of federal firearms licensees, who are obligated under criminal penalty to comply with federal law, and Missouri citizens. And as drafted, HB 85 raises significant concerns under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.”

Taylor said the letter made many “assumptions,” some of which were accurate. 

“In my opinion, it seems as though they recognize what the intent of the law was which was to stop enforcing or helping to enforce federal gun laws, to protect Second Amendment rights in the state of Missouri while ensuring we do enforce Missouri law and the baddest of bad guys are put away to make sure we have safer streets in Missouri,” Taylor told The Missouri Times in an interview Thursday. 

Boynton listed several concerns in the seven-page letter, but one particular point related to the domestic violence gun loophole. HB 85 defines “law-abiding citizen” using language in state statute, but federal law prevents convicted domestic abusers from possessing a firearm, Boynton noted. 

But Taylor said SAPA did not change any laws when it comes to domestic abuse and pushed back on the loophole narrative. 

“We believe in the state of Missouri that an individual should lose their rights when they commit a violent felony — not when they commit a misdemeanor. We’ve never said that a misdemeanor is a reason an individual should lose their Second Amendment rights or any rights, for that matter,” Taylor said. “My argument is that … if we need to change Missouri law to make some crimes a felony, if it’s a domestic violence situation, then let’s make those a felony, and those individuals should lose their Second Amendment rights.” 

“An individual shouldn’t lose their Second Amendment rights for committing a misdemeanor because what misdemeanor is next?” 

As for clarification, Taylor said he would support putting together a list to ensure law enforcement officers fully understood SAPA. 

“Our law enforcement in the state of Missouri will not be helping enforce federal gun laws on law-abiding citizens in the state of Missouri,” Taylor said. 

HB 85 was a focus of Republican leadership as this year’s session drew to a close. The Senate passed it after a lengthy standoff the night before session ended, and the House gave its final approval with an hour left before the legislative deadline. 

Parson signed the bill on June 12 at Frontier Justice, a gun store and shooting range, in Lee’s Summit. 

“This legislation today draws a line in the sand and demonstrates our commitment to 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,” Parson said at the time. “HB 85 puts those in Washington, D.C., on notice that here in Missouri we support responsible, law-abiding gun owners, and that we oppose government overreach and any unlawful efforts to limit our firearms.” 

Boynton asked Missouri to respond to his letter with the clarifications requested by Friday. 

A spokeswoman for the governor said she had not seen the letter and could not immediately provide a comment from Parson. A spokesman for Schmitt did not immediately respond to a request for comment either.