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St. Louis Firm May Sue Over Missouri Bill to Block Feds' Gun Laws, Says It's Unconstitutional

gun-show-file-image.jpg
via Wikimedia Commons
As we've noted here, with the help of a handful of Democratic lawmakers in Missouri, the legislature may successfully implement a law that would make it illegal to enforce certain federal gun policies in Missouri. The controversial "Second Amendment Preservation Act" is considered one of the most extreme pro-gun bills in the country and would essentially put in place a state law that directly contradicts federal law.

Daily RFT recently spoke with several backers of the measure and since got a chance this week to chat with Burt Newman, a well-connected St. Louis lawyer who opposes the bill.

He argues that it's clearly an unconstitutional, legally problematic piece of legislation -- and if it does become law, his firm is considering bringing forward a lawsuit to stop it.

See also:
- Missouri Legislature Sends Bill to Governor Blocking Federal Gun Control
- Keith English, Dem Backing Gun Bill to Block Feds: "We Don't Want to Back Down"
- Dave Roland Who Helped Draft GOP Gun Bill Says Missouri Has A Right to Block Feds

Last month, Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed House Bill 436, a Republican-sponsored bill, arguing that "under well-established legal precedent," the state cannot "resurrect the pre-Civil War concept of nullification" that would violate the Supremacy Clause.

The bill would make it a criminal act for law enforcement officials -- even federal ones -- to enforce gun laws in the state that infringe on the right to bear arms. The proposal was brought forth by conservative state politicians concerned with President Obama's gun control efforts in the wake of last year's tragic elementary school massacre.

gov-jay-nixon-missouri.jpg
via governor.mo.gov
Governor Jay Nixon.

Early analysis shows that Republican legislators, with support from some Democrats, may be able to override Nixon's veto when they convene in the fall.

"The Supremacy Clause requires that any conflict between state and federal law is decided in favor of federal law," Newman says. "The state law cannot undermine federal law and that's exactly what's taking place here."

Newman is an attorney with the Saint Louis Lawyers Group and an adjunct professor at the Washington University School of Law. He has experience with litigation involving the Missouri legislature, previously working as an attorney on a case challenging the state's concealed-carry law and on another case challenging a GOP voter ID measure here.

progress-missouri-facebook-guns.jpg
via Facebook
Image from Progress Missouri, a nonprofit group campaigning against the Second Amendment Preservation Act.

He is also the husband of State Rep. Stacey Newman, a Democrat who is one of the loudest gun control proponents in the legislature.

"It's inexcusable that this law would go into effect over the governor's veto," says Burt Newman, who earlier this year wrote a piece for Huffington Post on the limits of Second Amendment rights.

He tells us that his law firm in the process of determining whether it will file a lawsuit challenging this bill -- which, of course, depends on whether the legislature does override the governor's veto.

If he does file a suit, he will be asking the court for an injunction to block the statute pending a final ruling on the constitutionality of the measure.

In other states, the U.S. Attorney General has also threatened legal action against these kinds of bills that directly challenge the feds.

"It's a complete waste of state money to have to defend a lawsuit on an issue that has always been clear as a matter of constitutional law," Newman says. "What these legislators are doing is unfortunate. They are not knowledgeable of the constitutional law. They think that what is taking place is somehow detracting from their Second Amendment rights, which is absolutely untrue."

There is very clear legal precedent in this debate, he argues. "The Supreme Court has no need to rule on this issue. That is so fundamentally clear."

stacey-newman-website.jpg
via staceynewman.com
Rep. Stacey Newman.

He adds, "If anyone would take a look at the case law on this subject, I think they would reach the same conclusion."

If his firm doesn't challenge the bill, it will surely face other legal battles, he adds.

Proponents -- like one advocate who helped recommend the language -- argue that it's a legal fight worth having and that states have a duty to stand up to the federal government in this exact manner.

Newman, however, says the courts simply will not support the legislation. "I frankly could not envision this statute not being declared unconstitutional."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.



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17 comments
r2ba1
r2ba1

Imagine that a state legislature who's husband is a lawyer, And just who is going to pay him if he takes this to court??? Possibly the state?? No surprise there now.


the Founding fathers gave us the Second Amendment in case the federal government gets out of hand almost like what is happening now. SO screw the democrats they seem to block everything just look at the civil rights laws they blocked in the 60's They sure as hell did not worry about the blacks then and now they use them as their base. They have kept them poor and on welfare so long they know nothing else so that is their base.

puzzledpurfact
puzzledpurfact

This bill  destroys first amendment  and there is nothing to fight against with the feds for the 2nd as there has been nothing passed to fight against.

snewsom2997
snewsom2997

The states can do what the states want, until the Federal government sends in the army and makes the states  do what the Federal government  wants.

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

Statistically, crime is WAYYYYY down in most of the country. Stop freaking out over sensationalized events.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

Absolutely, also keep in mind the US Supreme Court ruled the right to bear arms is an individual right, without association with a militia group or military. This was a recent decision, and not up for interpretation by words written in 1791.

Jon Herrin
Jon Herrin

All of 2A should be supported. You know, the first four words of it too.

Jon Herrin
Jon Herrin

No. And there goes our supposed "budget surplus".

Andrew Jovanovic
Andrew Jovanovic

I think that guns are too easily accessible. Yes I agree that guns should not be banned because with education and an understanding that guns are dangerous and we should respect that. On the other hand we have too many people using guns to cause deaths at churches, schools, and other public arenas. Right now I would rather have guns limited to a few areas of life instead of being allowed to be concealed and carried. I think a limit on what types of gun that civilians can have should be in place. Hunting is one thing, haing a gun that could ravage a school is another.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

I never stated a stereotype, I stated my opinion that Americans SHOULD support 2A, not that all Americans DO.

Andrew Jovanovic
Andrew Jovanovic

Let's just stick to what you believe, not every American believes the same thing - stereotypes won't help in an issue like this.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

I support the Second Amendment Preservation Act 100%, as any red-blooded American should.

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

Totally support it, the feds are out of control

Mark Bland
Mark Bland

It doesn't matter. The federal laws over power the state laws. Then the extreme idiots in the state will want to secede. Then the smart people like my listeners will be a majority and tell them they are idiots and then they will brandish their arms in public as a protest. Before you know it, it will be 2020...no one will care or remember it happened and life will continue on.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

Why does the left scream "supremacy clause" when it involves guns and gun control, yet marijuana is illegal under federal law, and many on the left are pushing states laws to legalize pot? Isn't that a supremacy clause violation as well?

bossmanham
bossmanham

No conflict of interest at all here, is there Mr. Newman. Haha.

The only think unconstitutional in most of what the federal government does. Apparently these ninnies don't understand that nullification proponents are aware that the federal courts may, and most likely will, declare things that limit the federal government's power as unconstitutional. Tough. That's the point.

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