Several GOP-led states have banned their police from enforcing federal gun laws as the United States sees a continuous rise in mass shootings.
Gov. Mike Parson, R-MO, on Saturday signed House Bill 85, known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which threatens to penalize any local police agency with $50,000 if it enforces federal gun laws. The governor claimed gun control could infringe on the Second Amendment gun rights.
Republican lawmakers who sponsored the bill said their main intent was to prevent the passing of measures that Democrats have proposed, including the expansion of federal background checks and the restriction of the sale of AR-15s, a semiautomatic weapon that has been used in numerous mass shootings across the nation this year.
"We're going to do things to make sure you don't overreach your authority from the federal government," Parson, a former sheriff, said during the signing, according to KCUR 89.3.
The bill made Missouri the ninth state to challenge the enforcement of federal gun laws, joining Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
Can a State Invalidate Federal Law?
The recent bans on the enforcement of federal firearms legislation have been widely criticized. However, Missouri and other GOP-led states cannot legally ban the enforcement of federal laws.
"They can pass a law that says that there are 46 planets, they can pass a law that says that there are 16 days in the week. It doesn't make it so. It has no effect legally because the Constitution specifically says you can't do that," Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, told NPR.
Under the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause, federal law is supreme over state law, which means it can displace state law. This also means that law enforcement agencies in the nine GOP-led states are still required to uphold federal background checks and other federal laws despite the ban put in place by state governors.
With that being said, states do have the power to decide the extent to which they can assist federal law enforcement, including withholding the use of their resources to enforce the laws.
U.S. Mass Shootings
The Republican-led challenge against the federal government's firearms legislation comes as the nation marked 292 mass shootings this year. In June alone, there have been 52 mass shooting incidents across the nation, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
The latest reported mass shooting incident happened on Saturday night in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia. The incident left four people with gunshot wounds, one of whom is suffering from life-threatening injuries. Richmond detectives have yet to find the suspect, according to NBC 12.
On Sunday afternoon, a shootout between two groups left eight people injured with gunshot wounds, including a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old, who were both shot in the leg. One of the victims in the shooting underwent surgery, while seven other people are expected to survive their gunshot wounds. It is presently unknown who the suspects are, according to WFAA.