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By Sophie Reardon
Updated on: February 17, 2022 / 8:08 AM / CBS News
The U.S. Justice Department sued Missouri on Wednesday, seeking to stop the state from enforcing a bill it passed last year that declared several federal firearms laws “invalid.” The complaint alleges that the bill, known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act, is unconstitutional and is hindering law enforcement efforts.
The bill, which was signed into law in June 2021, allows for federal, state and local law enforcement officers to be penalized for enforcing the federal laws. According to a by CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” officers who try to enforce certain federal gun laws could face a penalty of up to $50,000.
In its complaint, the Justice Department argues that it’s unconstitutional for a state to declare a federal law invalid.
The department also says the bill has caused “rampant confusion” and has made officials in Missouri “withdraw support for federal law enforcement efforts, including by not sharing critical data used to solve violent crimes and withdrawing from joint federal task forces.”
“Critical information that state and local offices previously shared with federal law enforcement officers to facilitate public safety and law enforcement is now frequently unavailable to federal law enforcement agencies,” the complaint said.
“This act impedes criminal law enforcement operations in Missouri,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “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.”
It adds that the bill has resulted in dozens of officers resigning from federal join-task forces in the state, where nearly 80% of all violent crimes involve a firearm.
In the “60 Minutes” report, O’Donnell spoke to several local law enforcement agents who told her they believed the law actually “benefited criminals.” The Justice Department cited the “60 Minutes” report in their lawsuit.
Kacey Proctor, who serves as the prosecutor for rural Butler County, told O’Donnell he and his children are gun owners. And although he is in favor of expanding Second Amendment rights, he does not support this bill.
“What I oppose about it, and what I would ask for to be — to be looked at and possibly fixed is the ability for law enforcement officers to interact with their federal partners to go after people who are violent in nature and are — committing crimes in our community,” he said.
Sophie Reardon is a News Editor at CBS News. Reach her at email@example.com
First published on February 16, 2022 / 7:05 PM
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