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The Frontlines of Gun Rights – Missouri’s “Second Amendment Preservation Act”

Social Justice Policy Brief #27 | By: By Erika Shannon | September 27, 2021

Header photo taken from: St. Louis Public Radio

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Photo taken from: St. Louis Dispatch

It is no secret that here in the United States, there is an invisible line dividing those who are in favor of more gun laws, and those who are opposed. Those who are opposed to gun reform and gun laws are usually staunch supporters of the Second Amendment (the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.”). Certain states feel that gun ownership outranks the safety of their citizens, and one of those states just so happens to be Missouri. This year, Missouri passed their “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” which essentially nullifies any federal gun laws. While the passage of such a law is no shock coming from a conservative state like Missouri, some of the implications behind the law are skirting on dangerous.

According to the text of the law itself, laws and rules that collect data, restrict or prohibit the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms and accessories/ammunition within the state of Missouri exceed the powers granted to the federal government. The only exception is to the extent that the laws are either necessary for arming official military forces or militias. This is also taken a step further, as it is declared “that all federal acts, laws, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, and regulations, whether past, present, or future, that infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms…must be invalid in this state, including those that impose a tax, levy, fee, or stamp on these items as specified in the bill.”

The focus of a law like this is on the issue of states rights. Does a state have a right to nullify any actions of the federal government in relation to the 2nd Amendment? Missouri believes they do because their interpretation of the U.S. Constitution is a literal one: that people are allowed to own firearms because our Founding Fathers said so. Missouri lawmakers are ignoring the fact that we live in a world where gun control is absolutely necessary. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been over 500 mass shootings in 2021 alone. An even more staggering number is the fact that the total number of deaths in 2021 related to gun violence so far is over 32,000. The numbers are disturbing, yet states like Missouri wish to prohibit the federal government from doing their job to protect American citizens. If other states follow suit, we are looking at future baked with gun violence.

Policy Analysis

Besides nullifying any federal laws, orders, or statutes related to gun control, this Missouri law also makes it illegal for law enforcement officers to enforce or attempt to enforce any federal laws infringing on the right to keep and bear arms. If a law enforcement officer, or anyone else for that matter, attempts to knowingly deprive a Missouri citizen of the right to bear arms, they will be liable to the injured party for redress, including monetary damages in the amount of $50,000 per occurrence and injunctive relief. It is clear that the state of Missouri is taking the right to gun ownership very seriously, as enforcing such hefty fines is a big step in keeping  federal government gun control laws out of their land.

It is unnerving that Missouri Governor Mike Parson is on board with a law that could potentially raise crime rates even more in his state. According to the World Population Review, Missouri has the second highest homicide rates in the United States with 9.8 homicides per 100,000 people. Data from 2018 indicates that about 85% of homicides in Missouri are gun-related. 

Photo taken from: St. Louis Dispatch

The fact of the matter is that Missouri is not exempt from the gun crimes that our nation is facing. Missouri should also not be exempt from following federal laws meant to protect American citizens and possibly lower the amount of gun crimes that occur.

Lawmakers of Missouri clearly care more about the Second Amendment than they do about their own citizens. With Missouri’s choice to nullify any laws that impede Second Amendment rights, there is the question of what else Missouri’s government may push back on – there is fear Missouri Republicans will attempt to flout any vaccine mandates put forth by the federal government, a move that would cause much controversy in these uncertain times. Missouri has already made one unnecessary move against federal laws, so it is hard to know where they will draw the line.

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on image to visit resource website.

  • To read the full text of Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act, click here.
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