What’s the Problem With The Second Amendment Preservation Act?
by Dale Roberts
Editor’s Note: This is one of the most misunderstood pieces of legislation I have ever seen. Dale Roberts does a fantastic job of unpacking the issues and making sense of things. The SAPA legislation is being maligned by chief law enforcement executives and those in positions of governmental leadership. KWOS radio in Jefferson City reported that when Senator Caleb Rowden was asked if he would support efforts to gut SAPA, he replied, “Absolutely, there is support in the Republican caucus.” Why is this happening? Please read on…
Missouri’s “Second Amendment Preservation Act” (SAPA) was signed into law by Governor Parson on June 12, 2021, and because the legislation included an emergency clause it became effective immediately.
But various police chiefs, mayors, and other civic ‘leaders’ are bemoaning the effect of the law and alleging SAPA was written to allow criminals to go free. Really? Why would Governor Parson, who served more than 22 years in law enforcement, including 12 years as the sheriff of Polk County, endorse such a thing? Do they really think a man who dedicated his life to law enforcement would sign into law a piece of legislation that would “allow criminals to go free?”
The legislative intent behind SAPA was simple. Missouri should not cooperate with the federal government’s efforts to infringe the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Missouri citizens. Let me unpack that for you.
- The law only protects Missouri citizens, not visitors or aliens.
- It explicitly protects “law abiding citizens” only.
- If you’re a criminal dealing drugs, robbing or raping, this law won’t protect you or limit what law enforcement officers can do in the execution of their lawful duties.
- It only protects the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Missouri citizens.
- There is no language in the new law to attempt anything else.
In order to accomplish the stated goal of the legislation, this new law:
- Prohibits Missouri law enforcement officers from working with federal employees, in an effort to enforce federal gun laws, in any manner that would,
(a) infringe the Second Amendment rights,
(b) of a Missouri citizen,
(c) who is a “law-abiding” individual.
Is that so complicated?
Why, then, are police chiefs of Kansas City and St. Louis filing lawsuits and vocally attacking the Second Amendment Preservation Act? Are they that opposed to allowing you to exercise a right which was enshrined in America’s Bill of Rights and has been repeatedly recognized by the U. S. Supreme Court since 1857? If you haven’t seen those opponents on the news, they’re quick to say “We support the Second Amendment, but…” They go on to say, “We can’t do our job because of this law,” or, “The criminals we would otherwise catch are now going free because of this law.”
One of the most amazing comments they’ve made, when they challenged the law in the Cole County Circuit Court, was when the attorneys from Kansas City and St. Louis told the Judge: “Oh no. The effect of SAPA will be to defund our police departments.” WHAT? Isn’t that exactly what the bureaucrats in KC and St. Louis have been doing for the last few years? They actually said that with a straight face.
So why is SAPA so repugnant to the largest cities in Missouri? Is it really so restrictive as to prevent them from performing their lawful duties? Law enforcement agencies in countless other Missouri cities and counties have no complaints and continue to enforce the law as they did previously. The big city chiefs argue they cannot aid federal law enforcement or federal prosecutors with a case against a drug dealer who has illegal guns. By now you’ve read the part(s) of SAPA that say it only protects “law-abiding” citizens. A drug dealer is a criminal suspect and not a “law-abiding” citizen.
What then, could be the real reason(s) for their attacks on SAPA? Scholars have offered a few possibilities.
- On October, 2nd, 2019, Candidate Joe Biden published his campaign webpage promising to “ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines by Executive action if necessary” and President Biden has repeatedly stated he wants to ban 9mm handguns.
- For Missouri to enact legislation saying Missouri will not enforce any such federal laws might be viewed by the current administration as a direct challenge to this administration’s authority.
- Could this be a reason for the Biden administration to order the ATF to stop working with local law enforcement? Local agencies have said immediately after SAPA went into effect the ATF “left town” and stopped helping them.
Or could the loss of additional money that came from the federal government to the local agencies be a reason for the complaints? Surely they aren’t placing money above Constitutional rights? But there are two facts to consider:
- The Federal Equitable Sharing Program is an end-run around Article IX, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution and Chapter 513.623 of state statutes. Those Missouri laws require proceeds from forfeitures to go to public schools. But when a local law enforcement agency is working with a federal agency under the federal Equitable Sharing Program the local law enforcement agency gets to keep 80% of the cash (or goods) that are seized from the criminals. BUT ONLY if they are seizing property under FEDERAL law. Those funds would no longer be available when agencies are not cooperating with the feds. NOTE: Former Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton referred to such funds as “pennies from Heaven…that we use to buy a toy or something we can’t get (approved) in the budget.”
- Another source of the financial incentive is the Federal per diem payments which go to local jails for housing federal prisoners. The federal government pays 2 to 3 times more per prisoner, per day, than the state pays. However, if those defendants are not charged under federal law, the jails stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in Springfield, Kansas City and St. Louis. The three cities that are actively opposing SAPA are the same three cities that stand to lose the most money because of SAPA.
Conclusion: The plain language of the Second Amendment Preservation Act does not prevent local law enforcement agencies from continuing work with federal agents to investigate, arrest, and prosecute drug dealers, criminals illegally using guns, or countless other types of criminals. But there are other reasons, especially financial reasons, for those agencies to oppose SAPA.
Read the law yourself, it’s follows below. What do you think?
About the author: Dale Roberts is an attorney who handles firearms law issues and is certified by the Missouri Department of Public Safety as a Specialist in Firearms instruction. Dale may be reached at MoGunLaw@gmail.com and has recently started an online presence at MoGunLaw.com and MoGunLaw on Facebook.
What does the Second Amendment Preservation Act actually say?
“I’m from Missouri, you have to show me.” If you would like to read SAPA for yourself, this condensed copy omits all the legalese but remains an accurate restatement of SAPA.
1.420. Federal laws deemed infringements of United State and Missouri Constitutions. — The following shall be considered infringements on the people’s right to keep and bear arms, …
Tax, registration, prohibitions, confiscation, and tracking of firearms by law-abiding citizens;
1.430. Invalidity of federal laws deemed an infringement. — All federal laws that infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be recognized by this state, and shall not be enforced by this state.
1.450. Enforcement of federal laws that infringe on right to keep and bear arms prohibited. —
No LEO shall attempt to enforce any federal law infringing on the right to keep and bear arms “Nothing in (SAPA) shall prohibit Missouri officials from accepting aid from federal officials in an effort to enforce Missouri laws.”
1.460. Violations, liability and civil penalty — 1. Any agency that employs an officer who knowingly violates section 1.450 shall be liable to the injured party for a penalty of fifty thousand dollars. (You must prove the officer knew it was a violation and did it anyway.)
1.470. Employment of certain former federal employees prohibited… (similar to 1.460, but it prohibits hiring former federal officers who previously violated your Second Amendment rights.)
1.480. Definitions — acts not deemed violation. —
- The term “law-abiding citizen” means a person who is not otherwise precluded under state law from possessing a firearm (it does not include illegal aliens.)
*** This is critical. SAPA only protects “law-abiding citizens” not criminals.
- “Material aid and support” to federal agents means providing lodging, communications, facilities, weapons, personnel, transportation, or other physical assets.
- However, it shall not be a violation to provide material aid to federal agents in pursuit of a suspect (who isn’t located in Missouri) who has committed a crime in any other state.
*** And, this the other critical part of SAPA…
- It shall not be a violation of SAPA to provide material aid to federal prosecution for:
(1) Felony crimes against a person when the prosecution includes weapons violations similar to those in Missouri statutes as long as the weapons violations are not the primary offense –
(2) And it is not a violation to provide material aid to federal agents for ‘A’ felonies or ‘B’ felonies for illegal drugs even if the prosecution includes weapons violations similar to Missouri laws so long as the weapons violations are not the MAIN charge but are only part of the drug dealing.
 Article III Section 29 of the Missouri Constitution allows legislation to be designated with an emergency clause by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to each house (both Senate and House of Representatives.)
 Springfield and Columbia to a lesser extent.
 Biden’s October 2, 2019, anti-gun campaign web page: http://web.archive.org/web/20191002110353/https://joebiden.com/gunsafety/
 “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.” Statement made in 1899 by Missouri’s U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver. See: Rural Missouri, Volume 42, Number 3, March 1989, page 16.
 Read it yourself at: https://revisor.mo.gov/main/OneSection.aspx?section=1.410&bid=49534