Jackson County will join St. Louis and St. Louis County in a lawsuit filed last month challenging a new state law that forbids Missouri law enforcement agencies from enforcing certain federal gun laws.
At the urging of Jackson County Executive Frank White, the county legislature narrowly voted Tuesday to intervene in the litigation against the state law, which the four sponsors of the resolution claim is likely unconstitutional and at odds with efforts to ensure public safety.
Legislator Ron Finley joined the sponsors, fellow Democrats Crystal Williams, Scott Burnett, Jalen Anderson and Tony Miller, in instructing the county counselor to file a brief in support of the court challenge to House Bill 85. It was passed by the Republican-controlled Missouri General Assembly and signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson last month.
The two Republicans on the county legislature, Theresa Galvin and Jeannie Lauer, opposed the challenge to the measure, also known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act. Also voting no was Dan Tarwater, a Democrat who is serving this year as chairman of the legislature.
Democratic legislator Charlie Franklin was absent and did not vote.
White, a Democrat, last month asked legislators to support the court challenge filed by St. Louis county and city, expressing concern that the new law will prevent some local police from working with federal agents in enforcing gun restrictions.
At the time the lawsuit was filed, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said “this new law is like the state holding out a sign that says ‘Come Commit Gun Violence Here.’ ”
The federal Justice Department has said House Bill 85 conflicts with federal firearms laws and could hamper cooperation between federal and state law enforcement agencies. Missouri agencies could be sued for taking guns away from Missourians who are eligible to possess them under state but not under federal law.
For instance, the new law declares as invalid federal regulations concerning gun ownership by people convicted of committing domestic violence. The Metropolitan Family Violence Coalition in Kansas City issued a statement urging the Jackson County Legislature to support the St. Louis legal challenge.
“Every month we see women, children, and families who are threatened, wounded, and on all too frequent occasions murdered, by batterers who have easy access to guns,” the coalition said.
None of the county legislators who opposed intervening in the lawsuit explained their no votes when casting them. In an earlier committee meeting, Galvin and Lauer said they had concerns about possible legal costs to the county.
Administration officials say the legal work is being done in house at no additional cost to taxpayers.