Lincoln County, Mo. - The Lincoln County law enforcement community’s reaction to Gov. Mike Parson’s signing of HB 85 has varied throughout the area.
Called the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” the law prohibits state and local cooperation by any law enforcement agency with any federal gun laws. Parson signed the bill into law on June 12 during a ceremony in Lee’s Summit, a suburb of Kansas City.
Under the bill, Missouri agencies with police who knowingly enforce any federal laws could be sued and fined up to $50,000 per violating officer.
“Throughout my law enforcement career and now as governor of the state of Missouri, I have and always will stand for the Constitution and our Second Amendment rights,” Parson said. “This legislation today draws a line in the sand and demonstrates our commitment to reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property.”
“I’m pleased Gov. Parson has decided to sign this bill,” Lincoln County Sheriff Rick Harrell said. “The stated purpose of SAPA is to provide law-abiding citizens an added layer of protection against infringements of their right to bear arms.”
Despite the concerns of law enforcement officials across the state – and even the metropolitan area – Harrell does not believe SAPA will cause a problem with the capture of federal criminals who require Lincoln County’s assistance.
“There were some concerns this bill could have the unintended consequence of interfering with cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies when they try to bring dangerous criminals to justice,” Harrell said. “However, I believe the bill Gov. Parson has signed will strengthen the rights of law-abiding citizens – and will not prevent Missouri law enforcement from holding criminals accountable.”
Elsberry Police Chief Randy Davis is one of those who have mixed feelings and concerns about the law, nevertheless. He said the law is vague and ambiguous, and could lead to a great deal of unintended consequences.
“They could have accomplished a lot more with better language,” Davis said. “Any time you limit the police’s ability to do their jobs, it could pose a problem.”
Davis said he will take a “wait and see” approach, but cautioned law enforcement officers might be more reticent when working with federal agents due to SAPA because of the risk to their careers.
“It will give us pause in federal investigations,” he said. “We’re gun-shy enough as it is right now.”
Troy Police Chief Jeff Taylor said every law that’s ever been written has had flaws, and people who have law degrees will write laws that will be confusing to people who have to interpret them.
“Do I agree with all the laws that are written? Of course not,” Taylor said. “However, I took an oath 41 years ago to uphold the Constitution, so I have to follow it.”
Taylor went on to say he believed SAPA has good intentions, and strengthens Missourians’ rights to own weapons.
“I think this will help us focus on the real criminals,” he said. “Not everyone is a criminal.”
Winfield Police Chief Brian Wideman strongly supports the law, but will also cautiously take a “wait and see” approach to see how SAPA will survive legal scrutiny. He also said there will be considerable legal wrangling that will determine the ultimate fate of the law in the end.
“I believe the states should have a certain amount of autonomy between themselves and the federal government,” he said.
Moscow Mills Chief Terry Foster doesn’t believe SAPA will pose a problem for his officers.
“I just follow the laws that are put in place. That’s all you can do,” he said. “I don’t feel this is going to be a problem enforcing.
“It’ll work its way out through the legal process by that time.”
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade in a statement described the law as “radical, dangerous and obviously unconstitutional.”
“The new law even allows criminals who violate federal gun law to sue our local law enforcement officers for a minimum $50,000 fine if they in any way assist with federal investigations,” the Springfield Democrat said. “It quite literally defunds the police, and gives that taxpayer money to convicted criminals.”
Foster said the law could go the same path as marijuana and immigration laws have at the state level.
“This will likely get challenged in court,” he said. “We do have a supremacy clause in the Constitution.
“Marijuana is still illegal under federal law in this country, so well have to wait and see how this law holds up.”
Critics believe SAPA will lead to an increase in crime in a state already struggling with high crime rates.
However, Taylor believes there are more law-abiding gun owners in Lincoln County than there are otherwise, a sentiment shared by all the law enforcement heads of the area.
“People need to be held accountable for their actions,” Taylor said. “Not everyone is being held accountable for their actions anymore.
“I still believe there are more good people than bad – and I’ll always believe that.”