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Missouri has some of the most permissive gun laws in the nation — the state does not require background checks and does not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. As Gabrielle Hays reports, a state law passed in 2021 is making it harder for police to enforce federal gun laws.
Missouri has some of the most permissive gun laws in the nation. The state doesn't require background checks and doesn't require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. A state law passed in 2021 even makes it hard for police to enforce federal gun laws. Gabrielle Hays is the NewsHour Communities correspondent. She's based in St. Louis. Gabby, what is this law and how does it work?
Well, John, essentially, as you know that this law was passed in June of 2021, Governor Mike Parson signed it. And essentially what it does is it prohibits state and local agencies from helping the federal government enforce federal gun laws that if by Missouri standards are an infringement on a person's right to bear arms, their Second Amendment right. This was a law that was challenged almost immediately and it does come with some penalties.
What are the penalties?
The one that you will see most often is that a violation of this law could come with a $50,000 penalty on law enforcement. And so that is something that is noted in some of the pushback against this legislation and also in feedback from law enforcement across the state.
And you mentioned that it has been challenged. Who's challenging it? And where do those challenges stand?
Those challenges are ongoing. So on a state level, we know the St. Louis City County, Jackson County, and other counties across the state of their cities across the state have joined in on a lawsuit pushing back on the act.
Also, last year, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the Second Amendment Preservation Act, calling it invalid. Attorney General Merrick Garland said that it impedes on law enforcement operations in Missouri, and their ability to do their jobs.
You mentioned hampering law enforcement ability to do their jobs. How does this work in practice?
Well, I think the answer to that is kind of twofold. Because I think if you were to Google this law and law enforcement, you would see stories from across state of Missouri, from different counties and cities where law enforcement officers are talking to their local journalist or seeking clarification from the court and explaining what this law means to them and the ways in which it makes it difficult for them to do their jobs or deciding whether or not they should be cooperating with law enforcement, because law enforcement agencies have partnerships with federal agencies, right.
And so when this law came down, we have stories of not only law enforcement officers, but also prosecutors having the conversation of OK, would we do now? And so, I think that that has been a big part of it, and also violating this law could come with a $50,000 fine.
So, we've had law enforcement officials in our states asking for clarity on what it means specifically and how exactly it translates to their day to day work.
Is the sticking point, that it's not every federal gun law, it's federal gun laws that in their view, infringe on second amendment rights, and it's interpreting that?
Yes, so essentially, it's any law rule or regulation that Missouri considers an infringement on a person's right to bear arms.
Very good. Gabrielle Hays, NewsHour Communities correspondent in St. Louis, thank you very much.
For Gabrielle's full report on Missouri's gun law in the community and law enforcement in response to it, visit our website pbs.org/newshour.
Watch the Full Episode
Gabrielle Hays is a Communities Reporter for the PBS NewsHour out of St. Louis.
Winston Wilde is a coordinating producer at PBS News Weekend.
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