While many Missouri law-makers are sponsoring a bill that would tell the federal government what they can do with their firearms laws [See Will Missouri nullify federal firearms laws?], a St Louis County Democrat has filed a bill that would require parents who own firearms to provide that information to their children’s school.
Senate Bill 124, filed by State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal creates several new crimes. This law mandates that any parents or guardians of a child must notify the child’s school in writing if such parent or guardian owns any firearm. This registration must occur withing within 30 days of enrolling the child or within 30 days of obtaining a firearm. Violators would be subject to a $100 fine.
The effectiveness of this provision is certainly questionable since the risk of a $100 fine may not be sufficient to encourage thoughtful people to tell the government where the guns are. On the other hand, one can anticipate the inevitable–and Orwellian–classroom scene where the teacher quizzes the children: “Today we will talk about firearm safety. How many of your parents have guns at home?’ That should keep the county busy prosecuting parents who get snitched out by their kids.
The bill also creates the offenses of: 1) parental failure to stop illegal firearm possession by anyone under 18; and 2) the negligent storage of a firearm. These are class A misdemeanors unless death or injury results, in which case it is a class D felony.
Now there is a bold proposal that directly defies the federal government by nullifying federal firearms laws. State Rep. Casey Guernsey of Bethany, Missouri has filed a bill, HB 170, which:
- makes it unlawful for any state or local officer or employee (such as police, prosecutors and judges) or any federal firearms dealer to attempt to enforce any federal law relating to personal firearms, accessories or ammunition owned or manufactured in the state and that remain in the state; and
- makes it a felony for any federal agent to attempt to enforce such federal law; and
- authorizes any person in violation of a such federal law to request the attorney general to defend him or her for such violation; and
- that any new federal law that restricts ownership of a semi-automatic firearm (or magazine of a firearm) or requires its registration, shall be unenforceable in the state of Missouri.
State nullification of federal law is the legal theory that individual US states have the right to invalidate any federal law that the state finds unconstitutional. In the early years of the republic, nullification was considered by many states, but the federal courts–not unexpectedly–have not upheld the doctrine.
Obviously, if it came to a showdown, the federal government might be able–to some extent–enforce its firearms laws in Missouri. What would really gut federal enforcement efforts, however, would be the lack of any assistance from state and local law enforcement. Having the Missouri Attorney General defend citizens prosecuted by the United States Attorney would also be interesting.