Our Opinion: Uphold veto of misguided firearms law
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Good intentions do not necessarily make a good law.
An example is a state law that would criminalize federal enforcement of federal gun regulations that “infringe on the people’s right to bear arms.” The measure was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon, and that action deserves to be upheld during the veto session that begins Wednesday.
We support the people’s right to bear arms in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which outlines our federal framework of government.
The state law may be well-intentioned in its effort to curb restrictions on the right to bear arms, but it creates chaos on a number of fronts.
First, if the state measure becomes law, it almost certainly will trigger a lawsuit based on a conflict between two provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The provisions are the federal supremacy clause in Article VI and states rights, outlined in the 10th Amendment.
Experts predict the supremacy clause — which states federal law trumps state law when the two conflict — will prevail.
Second, the state law creates problems, both philosophical and practical, for state and local law enforcement officers.
The Missouri Sheriffs Association and a number of police departments, including the St. Louis County police chief, oppose a veto override. The sheriffs association said language in the state law violates a sheriff’s oath of office. In addition, the state law would hinder sheriff’s departments in working with federal authorities on drug, violent crime and other operations.
In addition, the Missouri Press Association recently voted to challenge the law if the veto is overturned.
The press group’s concern is a provision that prohibits printing the name of “any individual who owns a firearm or who is an applicant for ... a firearm.”
The legal interpretation is identifying any person — in any capacity, whether a deer hunter with a trophy, a scholarship winner or a community volunteer — is a misdemeanor if the person also is a gun owner or applicant. The provision applies not only to newspapers, but to any entity that issues information or material on printed or electronic form for distribution or sale to the public.
Even people who seek publication — for a wedding, anniversary, birth, job promotion, etc. — would be impeded by this provision if they also are gun owners or applicants.
The state law does nothing that is not already accomplished by the U.S. Constitution.
And, in its effort to reinforce that which needs no reinforcement, it creates all manner of mischief — for the state, for law enforcement and for Missourians from all walks of life.
We encourage lawmakers to uphold the governor’s veto of this misguided legislation.
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