Justice Department sues Missouri over controversial gun law

Justice Department sues Missouri over controversial gun law

The law, which went into effect in August, blocks Missouri state and local law officials from enforcing federal gun laws. The Justice Department alleged in its complaint that the state law “uniquely discriminates against federal agencies and employees; impairs law enforcement efforts in Missouri; and contravenes the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.”

“This act impedes criminal law enforcement operations in Missouri,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Wednesday. “The United States will work to ensure that our state and local law enforcement partners are not penalized for doing their jobs to keep our communities safe.”

Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The Justice Department for months has sought to overturn Missouri’s law, called the Second Amendment Preservation Act. US law enforcement officials previously told CNN that federal agents have encountered a number of issues in the state since the law went into effect because local authorities are worried about running afoul of it.

In some cases, police departments have withdrawn their officers from task forces led by federal law enforcement agencies.

“The Missouri law has had a harmful impact on public safety efforts within the state. Prior to enactment of H.B. 85, state and local law enforcement officers in Missouri routinely worked shoulder-to-shoulder with federal officers to keep Missourians safe. They did so by (among other things) sharing evidence, data, and other information critical to law enforcement and by participating in joint federal-state law enforcement task forces,” the Justice Department’s complaint alleged.

“H.B. 85, however, now severely impairs federal criminal law enforcement operations within the State of Missouri.”

Most of the conflicts raised by the law have come in operations involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which enforces gun laws, according to Justice Department officials. But other federal law enforcement agencies have encountered issues as well that hamper cases that need federal help.

CNN previously reported that, in one instance, US marshals preparing for an operation with local police to arrest a fugitive allegedly involved in drug trafficking faced a series of last-minute hurdles because of the law.

“A state cannot simply declare federal laws invalid,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton said in a statement Wednesday. “This act makes enforcement of federal firearms laws difficult and strains the important law enforcement partnerships that help keep violent criminals off the street.”

CNN’s Emma Tucker and Evan Perez contributed to this report.

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