Gun law's constitutionality still under debate

As the Missouri Senate debate began this week on Brian Nieves’ “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” St. Louis Democrat Jamilah Nasheed challenged its validity.

“Can you cite any precedents that this bill would survive a court challenge?” she asked Nieves, R-Washington, Monday afternoon. “Since we know this bill will end up in court, it is not fair.

“It will be found unconstitutional.”

While Nieves told Nasheed he can’t cite any legal precedent, and acknowledged that many bills passed by the General Assembly have ended up in court, he told reporters Wednesday: “I’m comfortable that it is constitutional.”

The bill’s opponents argue its provisions penalizing federal officers — who knowingly attempt to enforce federal laws that the state considers to be infringements on gun owners — violate the U.S. Constitution’s “supremacy” clause.

But, Nieves told reporters Wednesday: “The Supremacy Clause specifically pertains to actions taken by the federal government that are constitutional.

“And it’s my contention that, when the federal government gets more and more involved in our Second Amendment rights, that they’re operating outside Article I, Section 8 and, therefore, their actions are unconstitutional.”

The section Nieves mentioned is the Constitution’s listing of Congress’ powers. It doesn’t mention gun regulations specifically.

Neither Nieves nor Nasheed are attorneys. But both voiced confidence in their opinion of a possible court decision on the guns bill.

“I don’t think that it will uphold in court,” Nasheed said Wednesday. “I’m very confident that this bill will go down in flames.”

Nieves said his bottom line with the bill is “trying to re-establish the proper relationship between states and the federal government.”

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