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 October 21, 2023

The Supreme Court will not restore the Missouri gun legislation

The Supreme Court refused to reinstate a Missouri statute that prohibits local law enforcement from collaborating with federal authorities to enforce certain firearms laws.

Friday, the Supreme Court concurred with the Biden administration in denying the Republican-led state's emergency application to reinstate the law pending a lower court challenge, as The Hill reported.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented publicly. Two of his fellow conservative justices who voted to deny Missouri's request stated that private parties are still able to enforce the law.

The case could return to the Supreme Court to be decided on its merits.

In June 2021, Missouri passed the Second Amendment Preservation Act, declaring unconstitutional restrictions on gun transfers and firearm registrations, among others.

Police and other state and local government employees are prohibited from enforcing invalid provisions. The civil penalty for violations is $50,000.

In March, a federal district judge concurred with the Biden administration's claim that the Missouri law is unconstitutional.

However, the law remained in effect until late last month, when the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Missouri's request for a stay pending the outcome of their appeal.

The state then petitioned the Supreme Court to reinstate the law, insisting that it is constitutional and that the Biden administration lacks standing, or legal standing to file suit.

In a joint statement with conservative Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Neil Gorsuch suggested that private parties can still enforce the law.

“With the understanding that the district court ‘prohibited’ only ‘implementation and enforcement’ of H. B. 85 by the State of ‘Missouri and its officers, agents, and employees’ and ‘any others in active concert with such individuals,’…I agree with the denial of the application for a stay under the present circumstances,” Gorsuch wrote.

He continued, “An injunction purporting to bind private parties not before the district court or the ‘challenged’ provisions ‘themselves,’ however, would be inconsistent with the ‘equitable powers of federal courts.’”

Missouri cited the 8th Circuit's failure to provide an explanation to support its claim that the state would incur irreparable harm if the law remains unenforced.

“So except for the 24-hour period between when the district court entered its order and its administrative stay and the two business days between the Eighth Circuit issuing its one-line order and Missouri filing this application, Missouri’s law has been allowed to stay in effect for more than two years. By issuing a stay, this Court would maintain the status quo,” the state wrote to the justices.

Written By:
Charlotte Tyler

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