Published August 29, 2013
The Republican-led Missouri Legislature is expected to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would expand gun rights and make federal gun regulations unenforceable — even as similar laws in other states designed to buck federal gun rules face legal challenges.
Several of Nixon’s fellow Democrats told The Associated Press that they would vote to override his veto when lawmakers convene in September, even while agreeing with the governor that the bill couldn’t survive a court challenge. Many of them noted that in some parts of Missouri, a “no” vote on gun legislation could be career ending.
The legislation would make it a misdemeanor for federal agents to attempt to enforce any federal gun regulations that “infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.” The same criminal charges would apply to journalists who publish any identifying information about gun owners. The charge would be punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Nixon said the bill infringes on the U.S. Constitution by giving precedence to state law over federal laws and by limiting the First Amendment rights of media.
The legislation is one of the boldest measures yet in a recent national trend in which states are attempting to nullify federal laws. A recent Associated Press analysis found that about four-fifths of the states have enacted local laws that directly reject or ignore federal laws on gun control, marijuana use, health insurance requirements and identification standards for driver’s licenses. Relatively few of those go so far as to threaten criminal charges against federal authorities.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week ruled against a series of laws enacted in Montana that attempt to declare that federal firearms regulations don’t apply to guns made and kept in that state. Similar laws have been adopted in other states.
In the Montana case, the Justice Department successfully argued that the courts have already decided Congress can use its power to regulate interstate commerce to set standards on such items as guns.