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Justice Department sues Missouri over bill declaring some federal gun laws “invalid”

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Missouri Wednesday in an attempt to stop officials from enforcing a bill that would ban local police from following federal gun laws that the state declared “invalid.”

Why it matters: It alleges that Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act is unconstitutional and hindering law enforcement efforts in a state where “nearly 80% of violent crimes are committed with firearms,” per a Justice Department statement. Missouri officials vowed to fight the suit, which they say attacks Second Amendment rights.

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Driving the news: The bill, which was signed into law last June, penalizes federal, state and local law enforcement officers from enforcing federal laws, according to the Department of Justice.

  • The statute also “penalizes current federal employees by barring them from state employment if they enforced the purportedly invalid laws,” the DOJ added.

  • “The statute further directs the state judiciary to ‘protect’ against the federal laws declared invalid.”

What they’re saying: Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the department’s statement that the act “impedes criminal law enforcement operations in Missouri.”

  • Brian Boynton, who heads the DOJ’s Civil Division, added: “A state cannot simply declare federal laws invalid.

  • “This act makes enforcement of federal firearms laws difficult and strains the important law enforcement partnerships that help keep violent criminals off the street.”

The other side: Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt accused the DOJ in a statement of using the lawsuit “as a pretext for them to pull the plug on our successful and innovative federal-state crime fighting partnership, the Safer Streets Initiative, whereby attorneys from his office who were “deputized as assistant U.S. attorneys to help prosecute violent crimes,” per AP.

  • “Time and again, the Biden Administration has put partisan politics ahead of public safety,” Schmitt added.

  • “Make no mistake, the law is on our side in this case, and I intend to beat the Biden Administration in court once again.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with comment from Schmitt.

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