The Biden Justice Department reportedly is urging Missouri state officials to obey federal gun laws after the governor signed legislation to invalidate them.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton sent a letter Wednesday night to state leaders reminding them that federal laws supersede the state’s new statute, The Associated Press reported.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” into law on Saturday. It states that all federal gun laws are void — including those related to registration, taxation and prohibition — and local police agencies may be fined up to $50,000 if an officer knowingly enforces the laws.
“The public safety of the people of the United States and citizens of Missouri is paramount,” Mr. Boynton wrote, adding that the new law puts the working relationship between state and federal authorities at stake.
Mr. Boynton asked the governor and the state’s attorney general to provide more details on the statute and how it would be enforced by Friday.
The law is backed by Republican-controlled legislature, where members expressed concern about tighter gun restrictions under the Democratic Biden administration. Similar legislation passed the state legislature in 2013 but was eventually vetoed by then-Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.
Mr. Parson, a former sheriff, said in a statement Saturday that the new rule “draws a line in the sand and demonstrates our commitment to reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property.”
Republican governors in Arizona, West Virginia and Montana have approved similar legislation this year to nullify federal gun control regulations.
State Democrats, however, agree with the attorney general’s claim that such laws are unconstitutional.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade derided the law as a “radical, dangerous and obviously unconstitutional attempt to declare that Missouri will refuse to follow federal gun laws.”
“The new law even allows criminals who violate federal gun law to sue our local law enforcement officers for a minimum $50,000 fine if they in any way assist with federal investigations,” Ms. Quade said in a statement. “It quite literally defunds the police and gives that taxpayer money to convicted criminals.”