- Associated Press - Monday, November 7, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Two Kansas men accused of federal firearms violations are scheduled for trial in a case that indirectly involves a Kansas law seeking to prevent federal prosecution of anyone owning firearms made, sold and kept in the state.

Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler’s go on trial Tuesday in federal court in Wichita. Cox, owner of Tough Guys gun store in Chanute, is accused of illegally making and marketing firearms, specifically sound suppressors, while Kettler bought a silencer from Cox and filmed a live-fire test of the equipment, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (https://j.mp/2fthpPz ).

The men’s attorneys argued the charges should be dismissed because their clients believed their actions were legal under a state law passed in 2013. The Second Amendment Protection Act says firearms, accessories and ammunition manufactured and kept in Kansas are exempt from federal gun-control laws. The Kansas law made it a felony for the federal government to enforce certain directives of Congress regarding firearms.

“For believing and following the laws of the state of Kansas, I now find myself wrongfully accused in federal court,” said Kettler, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before being honorably discharged. “The whole thing is ridiculous.”

Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who co-authored the state law, said federal prosecutors have a shaky case.

“This is a perfect example of a prosecution that should never occur,” Kobach said. “These are individuals who are law-abiding gun owners. Why would the Justice Department be going after somebody like this?”

Kettler said he had hoped state officials who strongly supported the law would help deflect the indictment but that all he received was advice from the governor’s office to seek legal counsel.

“I don’t need any more legal counsel,” Kettler said. “I need to know why the state is setting up its citizens to be prosecuted by the United States of America. All Kansas lawmakers who passed this law are completely missing in action.”

In October 2015, Kobach asked Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to “appear as defense counsel” for Cox or file a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop federal enforcement of actions that violated the state’s law.

Schmidt told Kobach that Kansas law required the attorney general only to represent the state of Kansas, not private criminal defendants. He said he would enter the case only if the constitutionality of the state law was contested in the federal case. He asked the judge handling the federal case to notify the state if the law was to be challenged as part of the trial and his office has not been received any such notification.

A day after the Second Amendment law took effect, then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder advised Gov. Sam Brownback that a Kansas law criminalizing federal enforcement of gun laws was unconstitutional.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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