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The department’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on Wednesday, seeks to block the state from enforcing the law, known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act.
The legislation was signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, in June 2021. It allows private citizens to sue agencies for $50,000 if they believe their Second Amendment rights have been violated.
In a statement last year, the governor’s office said that the measure “prohibits state and local cooperation with federal officials that attempt to enforce any laws, rules, orders, or actions that violate the Second Amendment rights of Missourians.”
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement said he believes the legislation impedes law operations in Missouri.
He added, “The United States will work to ensure that our state and local law enforcement partners are not penalized for doing their jobs to keep our communities safe.”
The DOJ’s lawsuit alleges that the restrictions imposed by the law have hindered cooperation and other activities that assist federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts.
“Federal law enforcement agencies within the state report that enforcement of federal firearms laws in Missouri has grown more difficult since H.B. 85 became effective,” the Justice Department claimed.
The department claimed the law also “penalizes current federal employees by barring them from state employment if they enforced the purportedly invalid laws.”
”The statute further directs the state judiciary to ‘protect’ against the federal laws declared invalid,” the lawsuit added.
Responding to the complaint, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said the Biden administration is seeking to “attack Missourians’ Second Amendment rights” through what he described as a “partisan lawsuit.”
“Unfortunately, the Biden DOJ has used this lawsuit as a pretext for them to pull the plug on our successful and innovative federal-state crime-fighting partnership, the Safer Streets Initiative,” Schmitt said in a statement.
He said, ”Since I launched the Safer Streets Initiative in 2019, we’ve filed over 650 charges against nearly 390 defendants with a conviction rate of roughly 98%. My Office has fought to continue the initiative, but this initiative has been suspended solely because of the Biden Administration’s actions.”
“Make no mistake, the law is on our side in this case, and I intend to beat the Biden Administration in court once again,” Schmitt added.
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