U.S. Supreme Court

Missouri can't ban enforcement of federal gun restrictions after Supreme Court denies emergency request

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The Missouri Second Amendment Preservation Act says federal laws that require the registration, tracking and taxing of guns violate the right to bear arms. Image from Shutterstock.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday turned down an emergency request to reinstate a Missouri law that barred state officials from helping enforce federal gun laws.

Only Justice Clarence Thomas would have granted the stay, report the New York Times, Law360, SCOTUSblog, Reuters and the Washington Post.

The Missouri Second Amendment Preservation Act said federal laws that require the registration, tracking and taxing of guns violate the right to bear arms, and they won’t be enforced in the state, according to a description of the law by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes of the Western District of Missouri. The judge barred enforcement of the law in a March 6 opinion.

The law allows citizen lawsuits for $50,000 in damages against police departments for violations of their right to bear arms.

Wimes said the law violates the supremacy clause, and it cannot be enforced. He stayed his order, however, pending appeal. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis agreed last month that Wimes could block the law and allowed the judge’s injunction to take effect.

The Missouri law has similarities to a Texas law that banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and authorized citizen suits for violations. In that case, the Supreme Court said in 2021 abortion providers challenging the law could sue state officials with authority over medical licenses but not others.

In the gun case, Justice Neil Gorsuch, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, agreed in a statement that Missouri’s bid to reinstate the law should be denied—with the understanding that Wimes’ order applies only to Missouri and its officers, agents and employees.

Wimes’ injunction cannot bind private parties not before the high court, Gorsuch said, citing the Supreme Court’s decision on the Texas abortion law.

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