The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives advanced legislation Wednesday that would make it a felony to enforce any federal gun-control laws.
The House voted 117-43 to approve legislation that would prohibit the enforcement of all federal gun laws enacted after Jan. 1, 2013, either by Congress or through an executive order by President Barack Obama. The sponsor said the goal is to enforce Missouri residents' Second Amendment rights. Opponents said it is unconstitutional.
"The Second Amendment says we have the right to keep and bear arms," state Rep. Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany), the bill sponsor, told The Huffington Post. "Whenever the federal government or President Obama takes any measure on gun control, they are taking that right away."
Under the terms of the bill, any federal agent who attempts to enforce a federal gun law in the state would face a class D felony, which could carry a jail sentence.
Guernsey, who is trying to ban drones as well, said his main concern is making sure the gun policies Obama is pushing do not have any impact on Missouri. The legislation would withstand any constitutional challenges because, he said, the state's 10th Amendment gives the Legislature the right to overrule challenges to the Constitution by federal officials.
Guernsey did not include all federal gun laws since he believes those enacted prior to 2013 can work, he said.
The bill received support from several Democrats, but opponents are arguing that it is unnecessary and would do nothing more than give money to trial attorneys in an attempt to overturn the law.
"This is Missouri's answer to mass shootings and gun violence around the country, just keep blaming the government," state Rep. Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) told HuffPost. "They want to make it easier to have a gun. It makes Missouri look so backwards by saying this is our answer. It says our guns mean more to us than saving lives."
But Robert Cottrol, a law professor at George Washington University, said that since state governments cannot override federal law, the bill would not stand up to a federal court challenge.
Guernsey's bill is not the first one of its kind this year. Wyoming lawmakers considered a similar bill that failed.
Among the federal provisions Guernsey is concerned about is an executive order signed by Obama that does not prohibit doctors from asking about guns in a home. The question is encouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics as part of a routine series of safety questions for parents of newborns, along with questions about the storage of poison.
"I am not interested in having President Obama give doctors the ability to police gun control," he said. "That is something he is trying to give them the ability to do. That is concerning to me."
One Missouri Democrat said this bill is an example of what Republicans are attempting to do in the state.
"The number of blatantly unconstitutional gun bills like this is the clearest sign that crazy has taken over," state Rep. Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) said. "It's painful to watch moderate Republicans vote for something know, and privately admit, is nuts because they are so afraid of the far right."
The bill's advancement comes weeks after Kansas enacted a version of the law, which advocates called the "strictest Second Amendment protection law in the nation."