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Ruling on Missouri’s controversial Second Amendment Preservation Act reversed

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Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Building in Jefferson City pictured on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. (Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com)

JEFFERSON CITY — A legal challenge to a controversial new state gun law will head back to circuit court, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The case involves a challenge to the constitutionality of the so-called Second Amendment Preservation Act by St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County.

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Green ruled against the city and the counties in August, saying their request for a declaratory judgment was not appropriate because other cases against the law were already pending.

But the Supreme Court overturned this judgment Tuesday based on arguments heard in February, with Judge Zel M. Fischer dissenting. The high court did not rule on the constitutionality of the law, but stated the circuit court ruled against the motion in error.

The Second Amendment Preservation Act, which bars police from enforcing federal gun laws that the state declares “invalid” and carries potential $50,000 penalties for violations, has drawn an array of opposition. Legal challenges have been filed by other localities, individuals and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Opponents have argued the act violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states that federal law supersedes state law, among other “rights guaranteed by state and federal constitutions.”

In a joint statement provided Tuesday by a spokesman for Mayor Tishaura O. Jones, St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County said they were “pleased with today’s decision and look forward to a ruling that overturns this dangerous, blatantly unconstitutional legislation.”

Law enforcement officials, including a coalition of 60 Missouri police chiefs, contend the act impedes partnerships with federal officers and use of national databases and resources.

But the act’s sponsors Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Battlefield, and Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa, along with other gun-rights advocates, say the law is needed to protect Second Amendment rights from “federal infringement.”

“We will continue our fight to protect and preserve the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Missourians,” Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement responding to the ruling.

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