COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators struck a deal on gun control this past weekend, but it may not be enforced in Missouri because of the Second Amendment Preservation Act.
The group of 20 senators includes 10 Republicans, which, if all Republicans and everyone signed onto the deal vote in favor of it, is enough people to beat a filibuster. If passed, the deal will provide sweeping reform to current federal gun control laws, but Missouri police may not be allowed to enforce the new laws. The SAPA is a state law that fines law enforcement agencies up to $50,000 if they enforce federal gun control laws that conflict with the state's loose gun regulations.
Bipartisan gun deal struck in U.S. Senate
One of Missouri's own, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), is signed onto the deal. Blunt and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) are sponsoring the mental health portion of the bill package. The bill, called the Excellence in Mental Health Act, would expand mental health and addiction services by providing every state funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.
“Making sure people who are experiencing a mental health crisis can get treatment before they harm themselves or others is critically important to preventing another tragedy,” Blunt said.
Data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows people who receive help from community clinics are more than 60% less likely to go to the emergency room or jail.
“For too long, emergency rooms and law enforcement have served as the de facto mental health care delivery system in our country," Blunt said. "CCBHCs are changing that, providing crisis intervention support to police officers and comprehensive, ongoing care for those who need it. It is important to remember that people who do have a mental health issue are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator."
The bipartisan gun control deal would also do several other things:
- expand background checks for people under 21 purchasing a gun
- Implement federal red flag laws and incentivize states to implement red flag laws
- expand the law preventing those convicted of domestic abuse from buying guns by closing the "boyfriend loophole"
- Increase penalties for gun trafficking
- Provide funding for school violence prevention training in primary and secondary schools
A spokesperson for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) said, "Sen. Hawley has concerns about the current framework and will continue to review it this week as the language is drafted."
Republican candidate for Senate, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville) said in an emailed statement that Republicans should not be negotiating with Democrats on gun control. Hartzler said President Joe Biden is trying to take away Americans' guns.
"That is his real goal, no matter how he frames it," Hartzler said. "Senator McConnell, Senator Cornyn, and anyone else who is tempted to even talk about gun control with Democrats should stand down immediately. Conservative voters put them in those jobs to defend our rights, not negotiate them away."
Missouri's Second Amendment Preservation Act in state court
Under SAPA, if a Missouri police officer or any other form of law enforcement enforces a federal gun control law that violates a Missourian's Second Amendment rights they can be fined up to $50,000.
SAPA is being challenged in state court. St. Louis City, St. Louis County and Jackson County filed suit against Missouri for the law. Missouri's Supreme Court heard arguments on the case in February, and a judge sent it back to Cole County court.
An order from the Cole County court said the case will continue. On June 8, St. Louis County filed to withdraw from the lawsuit.
In the February hearing, the counties and city argued SAPA is unconstitutional by overstepping the supremacy clause -- which states that federal law trumps state laws.
Lawyer and State Rep. David Tyson Smith (D-Columbia) also said SAPA is unconstitutional.
"It prevents state law enforcement from working with the federal government and working with the feds in preventing crimes," Smith said. "We've got all this, all these shootings in Columbia, that's preventing us from getting the help we need at the federal level from stopping all these local shootings."
Former prosecutor Bill Tackett said SAPA does not disobey federal law, it allows the state to go around it.
"In other words, you can't have enough FBI agents all over the country, all over Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield, there aren't enough FBI agents, it would take millions to do the whole country," Tackett said. "So, by not having state officials, state police officers assisting the federal government, the practical effect is you shut down that federal mandate."
Both Tackett and Smith agreed, SAPA could make the bipartisan gun deal moot in Missouri.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt defends SAPA and said he will always fight to protect Second Amendment rights. Schmitt, a Republican, is also seeking one of Missouri's U.S. Senate seats.
"Republicans should immediately stop negotiating with Democrats whose sole goal is to strip away Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens," Schmitt said. "Red flag laws are a green light for gun confiscation.”