Bill nullifying federal gun laws passes Missouri Senate

Missouri state Sen. Brian Nieves, (R-Washington), wants to give federal law enforcement agents "healthy pause" before enforcing gun laws in the state. (Photo credit: Orlin Wagner/AP)

Missouri state Sen. Brian Nieves (R-Washington) wants to give federal law enforcement agents “healthy pause” before enforcing gun laws in the state. (Photo credit: Orlin Wagner/AP)

Last week, the Missouri Senate approved legislation that would both nullify federal gun laws and prohibit state jobs for some former federal employees.

The measure in question, HB 1439, rejects that the federal government has authority to restrict or prohibit manufacture, ownership or use of firearms inside the state of Missouri. Its language further states that all federal gun laws, “past, present, or future,” that infringe on the Second Amendment are invalid.

Along with forbidding state employees to assist in the enforcement of federal gun laws, the bill would also declare federal employees who do attempt to enforce the laws as being liable in court for damages. Additionally, language added to by the Senate would forbid former federal employees found in violation of the bill’s tenets to be refused future employment by the state.

Prior to clearing the Senate by a vote of 23-8 on April 30, the House passed the measure by a vote of 110-36.  Now the bill heads back to the House so that it can consider the changes made by the Senate.

“We want to cause a reason for law enforcement to have a healthy pause before they might infringe on the Second Amendment rights of Missouri citizens,” said Sen. Brian Nieves (R-Washington) sponsor of the bill.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James (left) and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay are in firm opposition of HB 1439. (Photo credit: Kansas City Star)

Kansas City Mayor Sly James (left) and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay are in firm opposition to HB 1439. (Photo credit: Kansas City Star)

State Democrats as well as the mayors of St. Louis and Kansas City stand firmly against the proposed legislation, saying that it “moves well beyond the boundary of reasonable debate. It is an affront to our communities. It is an embarrassment to the state of Missouri.”

In 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected these types of so-called nullification laws in which states can choose which federal laws apply to them, then later ruled in turn that local law enforcement had no obligation to enforce federal gun laws.

Nevertheless this has not stopped at least 27 states such as Montana, Kansas and Tennessee from attempting to enact such legislation in recent years, citing protections under the Tenth Amendment.

The Missouri measure is marked as an Emergency Bill by both chambers, which would mean it could be implemented almost immediately after the governor’s signature.

However, embattled Gov. Jay Nixon, who vetoed a similar bill last year, is also expected to strike down this new one, gearing up for a promised override vote in the Legislature.

A video from last year’s debate over the previous nullification bill: