Washington, D.C., September 11, 2013 — The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence today announced that it is prepared to file suit in federal court against Missouri’s law that criminalizes enforcement of federal gun regulations and declares them null and void within the state. The state legislature will hold votes today to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of the legislation, HB 436.
“This outrageous law would allow criminals to buy machine guns, and make federal law enforcement officers into criminals for trying to stop gun crimes,” said Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center. “The people of Missouri want their legislators focused on sensible solutions to gun violence, instead of grandstanding with ridiculous, unconstitutional declarations that the federal government has no authority to address our national gun violence problem. If the legislature chooses to enact this misguided and dangerous law, we are prepared to file suit immediately to get it struck down.”
“In its rush to make a political statement, the Missouri legislature has trampled on the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Missouri Constitution,” said Stuart Plunkett of Morrison & Foerster LLP, co-counsel for the Brady Center.
“The Missouri law ignores the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, and violates fundamental rights to due process and free speech. It is clearly unconstitutional.”
If the legislature successfully overrides Governor Nixon’s veto of HB 436, the Brady Center will file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri alleging that the law violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes federal law as supreme and gives federal courts the final power to interpret the Constitution. The suit will further allege that the law is unconstitutionally vague, and that by making it a crime to publish information on firearm owners, the law also violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
The Brady Center has successfully brought lawsuits that enjoined or struck down a Florida law that prevented doctors from discussing firearms; a Georgia city ordinance that mandated firearms ownership by heads of households; and a federal rule that allowed guns in national parks. (The parks rule was later overridden by Congress).
The lawsuit in Missouri will seek a declaratory judgment that HB 436 is unconstitutional, and a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of the law. The suit has been prepared by James Wyrsch of Wyrsch Hobbs & Mirakian, P.C., Charles Patterson, Stuart Plunkett, Kay Fitz-Patrick, Christopher Sousa, and John Lanham of Morrison & Foerster LLP, and Jonathan Lowy and Elizabeth Burke of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.