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Missouri Law Enforcement Officers Call on General Assembly to Revisit Nullification Law

November 23, 2021

Missouri Police Chiefs Association Says it is Hindering Ability to Conduct Criminal Investigations

In the latest show of opposition by law enforcement to Missouri’s new law that attempting to nullify federal gun laws, the Missouri Police Chiefs Association (MPCA) wrote a letter to Missouri lawmakers expressing that the new law currently hinders ability to conduct criminal investigations and prevents officials from enforcing federal gun laws, directly asking lawmakers to address these concerns. 

The nullification law, signed by Governor Parson earlier this year, dangerously prohibits state and local officials from assisting with the enforcement of federal gun laws and fines local law enforcement agencies up to $50,000 for any violations. According to the Kansas City Star, who recently obtained a copy of the letter sent last month, Missouri law enforcement officials expressed to state lawmakers that the law’s “wording and structure have caused confusion and potentially unintended legal implications.” The MPCA additionally expressed a desire to “[protect] officers from frivolous civil litigation related to the continued joint endeavors with our federal partners.” Governor Parson has also recently admitted that the law needs to be revisited. 

Local officials from across the political spectrum, including traditionally conservative law enforcement leaders and county prosecutors, have also spoken out against nullification. In a recent 60 minutes segment, Butler County prosecutor Kacey Proctor and General Counsel for Missouri Office of Prosecution Services Steve Sokoloff said the law “has a tremendously chilling effect on law enforcement officers,” forcing local law enforcement to disband from federal task forces and avoid partnering with federal agencies despite their longstanding practice of sharing resources and manpower, making it more difficult to identify and arrest people who have committed violent crimes involving guns.

Under nullification, law enforcement officers are prohibited from enforcing currently standing federal gun safety laws, including laws that keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Missouri does not currently have any state protections preventing domestic abusers from accessing firearms. In 2007, Missouri repealed its background check law for all handgun sales, opening up a loophole that makes it easier for domestic abusers to purchase guns without a background check. Then in 2016, state lawmakers passed permitless carry, removing the requirement to obtain a permit and undergo a background check before carrying a loaded handgun in public. And now, under nullification, law enforcement officers cannot enforce the sole protection keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. 

Last month, the Kansas City Star issued a report detailing how years of gun lobby influence and the systematic dismantling of Missouri’s gun safety laws, including the recent nullification law, has exacerbated the state’s gun violence crisis. In the piece, the Kansas City Star examined how the NRA and other gun lobby organizations in the state served as a dangerous engine for the continued repeal of gun safety measures. 
Read more about the Missouri Police Chiefs Association letter here. Read more about gun violence in Missouri here.

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