Right-wing state lawmakers in a wide variety of legislatures have pursued radical “nullification” measures this year, but arguably none of them was as outrageous as Missouri’s “Second Amendment Preservation Act.”
The proposal begins by mandating that state law enforcement not enforce federal gun laws, but then takes the additional step of making it illegal for federal officials to enter Missouri to enforce federal gun laws. By any sane measure, the proposal was blatantly, breathtakingly unconstitutional, and was predicated on a radical legal theory resolved by the U.S. Civil War.
Many of us have grown accustomed to a certain degree of nuttiness in Republican policymaking in the 21st century, but even by today’s GOP standards, this was just insane: “The bill seeks to nullify any and all past and future federal laws that might infringe upon Missouri’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, which is very different from the Supreme Court’s and which can be summarized thusly: Anything goes.”
And yet, it passed the GOP-led state legislature anyway. Missouri’s Democratic governor may be a moderate representing a “red” state, but he couldn’t possibly go along with this.
Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday vetoed a bill that would have called on the state to prosecute federal officials who try to enforce federal gun laws in Missouri and prohibit publication of the names of people owning guns. Noting that federal laws supersede state laws, the governor, a Democrat, said the bill was unconstitutional because it would nullify some federal gun laws and infringe on free speech rights by punishing anyone who published names of gun owners in Missouri.
GOP extremists didn’t take the news well. My colleague Kent Jones flagged this item out of Missouri, in which a deeply confused Republican state senator named Brian Nieves accused the governor of “b___— slapping” the Constitution.
There’s a strain of madness in today’s GOP, and it remains terribly unsettling.