Mercer County Sheriff Jose Lopez and Commissioners Jerry Allen, Shane Grooms and Zachary Martin on Monday, Feb. 22, signed an ordinance known as the Mercer County Missouri Second Amendment Preservation Act.
With that signing, Mercer became the latest Second Amendment sanctuary county in Missouri. The Second Amendment sanctuary, also known as a gun sanctuary, is a state, county or locality in the United States that has adopted laws or resolutions that oppose, prohibit or impede the enforcement of certain gun control measures.
The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office posted the occasion on Facebook.
“This morning (02/22/2021) Sheriff Lopez and the Commissioners of Mercer County, Jerry Allen, Shane Grooms and Zachary Martin, signed into effect the Mercer County Missouri Second Amendment Preservation Act. This is a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting the law abiding citizens of Mercer County’s second amendment rights,” the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office wrote. “Attached is a copy of the actual act for further details. If you would like a hardcopy you may request a copy at the courthouse as well.”
The ordinance stated: “All federal acts, laws, orders, rules and regulations passed by the Federal Government and specifically any Presidential Administration whether past, present or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1 Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution shall be invalid in the county, shall not be recognized by this county and specifically rejected by this county, and shall be considered null and void and no effect in this county.”
It also stated that “it must be the duty of the courts and law enforcement agencies to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms and that no person, including a public officer or county employee, can have authority to enforce or attempt to enforce any federal laws, orders or rules infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.” (Related: Citizens sue to restore their Second Amendment rights in Colorado, Connecticut.)
According to the ordinance, any person while acting as an official, agent or deputy of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce any infringement on the right to keep and bear arms “may be permanently ineligible to be hired as law enforcement officer or to supervise law enforcement officers in the county or exceeds the authority of the Mercer County Missouri Commission.”
But the ordinance made an exception for local deputies and sheriffs “when assisting any and all federal agents in the arrest of suspected criminals.”
Earlier this month, the Missouri House approved a measure that subjects state and local police departments to lawsuits if officers enforce federal gun laws.
Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Republic) has sponsored the legislation known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act. He deemed it important to pass the legislation because of a Congress and president that are “so openly against the Second Amendment.”
Violation of the Second Amendment Preservation Act carries a minimum penalty of $50,000.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) pointed out that there is no upper limit included in the legislation, but Taylor had a ready answer.
“The best way to get the departments’ attention, and to make sure that they follow this law and to make sure they protect our Second Amendment rights, is to hit them in the pocketbook,” Taylor said.
Some argued the measure would be unconstitutional, but Taylor said the anti-commandeering doctrine makes it legal. According to that doctrine, Congress cannot require states to enforce or adopt federal laws, giving states the ability to define their own laws.
Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Arnold) was elated with the result.
“As a mother of six I need to be able to protect myself and my family and I will never let politicians in Washington decide what Missourians, who elected me and you to sit in these chairs, what laws we pass here in this state,” Coleman said.
The bill did not get any support from the Democrats in the Missouri House as the bill passed on party lines, 103-43.
Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) pointed out that laws such as background checks and gun dealer licensing are federal laws that police in Missouri could no longer enforce.
Quade said, by passing this legislation, Republicans “failed in their duty to protect the people of this state.”
“As gun violence continues to spread unchecked in Missouri, House Republicans today advanced dangerous legislation to make the situation far worse,” she said.
Missouri recorded its highest levels of gun violence in history last year.
Some Democrat lawmakers also noted that the Second Amendment Preservation Act would allow domestic abusers to have firearms.
“Federal law prohibits domestic abusers, people with restraining orders and those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes from having guns,” said Rep. Richard Brown (D-Kansas City). “The only people who should be fighting me on this are wife beaters.”
But Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) countered that judges in state courts have the ability to restrict Second Amendment rights for abusers who are deemed a threat to other people.
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