Some Missouri police departments are cutting ties with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as agencies figure out how state-federal partnerships will proceed under new state gun laws.
Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed the Second Amendment Preservation Act on June 14, which allows individual officers to be fined up to $50,000 for enforcing federal gun laws. HB 85 also “declares many federal gun regulations, including those that covering weapons registration, tracking, and possession of firearms by some domestic violence offenders, “invalid” in Missouri,” the Kansas City Star reported.
The new law has garnered a two-fold response from law enforcement agencies around the state, and members of the Missouri Sheriff’s Association say the law is worded too vaguely.
“Some say they are supportive of Second Amendment rights but concerned about their ability to investigate crimes alongside federal agents when guns are used or involved. In those cases, prosecutors often pursue gun charges because they come with additional penalties upon sentencing,” according to the Kansas City Star.
So far, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has suspended its participation in an ATF task force and the O’Fallon Police Department withdrew two K9 officers who worked with ATF on an “as-needed” basis.
O’Fallon Police Chief Philip Dupuis resigned after the bill was passed, saying it leaves officers vulnerable during “good faith, justified seizures of firearms,” Breitbart News reported.
The Kansas City Star obtained emails from federal prosecutors in eastern Missouri asking a dozen police departments if they plan to continue participating in federal gun crime investigations. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) also sent an email to a southwest Missouri police department and is “assessing the responses of local police statewide.”
Soon after the bill’s passing, the Department of Justice reached out to Parson and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt with concerns the law could jeopardize state-federal partnerships.
“Missouri is not attempting to nullify federal law,” Schmitt and Parson replied. “Instead, Missouri is defending its people from federal government overreach by prohibiting state and local law enforcement agencies from being used by the federal government to infringe [on] Missourians’ right to keep and bear arms.”
The law’s sponsor, Missouri State Rep. Jered Taylor told the Kansas City Star the law should not cause local departments to withdraw from federal agency partnerships “unless Congress passes further measures pushed by the Biden administration such as magazine restrictions or an assault rifles ban”:
Law enforcement is still going to be able to work with federal partners, after working months and months with law enforcement across the state to make sure we had a bill that not only protect Second Amendment rights but make sure law enforcement is still able to do their job.
Breitbart News reached out to Parson’s office on Tuesday asking if the governor plans to clarify the bill and if he anticipated departments pulling out of federal partnerships under the new law. His office did not respond to request for comment.