Missouri Republicans want to jail federal agents over gun laws


Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoed similar legislation last year (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

A Missouri state Senate committee began hearing testimony on Tuesday on legislation that would make it a crime, punishable by up to a year in jail, for federal agents to attempt to enforce gun laws.

The bill would send federal agents to jail for up to a year and fine them up to $1,000 for seeking to enforce federal gun control laws. The bill doesn’t specify which gun laws would be off-limits, though it mentions registration and tracking policies.

Courts have ruled repeatedly that state laws cannot supersede federal legislation, though the bill, sponsored by state Sen. Brian Nieves (R), “declares as invalid all federal laws that infringe on the right to bear arms” under the Second Amendment. “Federal supremacy does not apply to federal laws that restrict or prohibit the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition within the state because such laws exceed the scope of the federal government’s authority,” according to a bill summary.

The measure would strip law enforcement officials of immunity and make them responsible for attorneys’ fees and “costs.”

It’s the second time the legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Brian Nieves (R), has come before the legislature. Last year, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoed a similar bill.

Nieves’s legislation also allows certain school officials to carry concealed weapons. It would permit concealed carry licensees to carry weapons in the open, even in cities and localities that have banned the practice.

The bill has another hearing scheduled before the state Senate General Laws Committee next Tuesday.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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Reid Wilson | January 22