CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOX) - In a letter to Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, Thursday, St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch urged House Republicans to not override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of HB 436.
The bill has drawn national attention for its attempts at nullifying federal gun laws in the state and making it a crime for federal authorities to enforce them.
Fitch, who has taken strong pro-gun stances in the past, said in Thursday’s letter that the bill, if it becomes law, “would hinder local law enforcement’s ability to enforce existing laws.”
“The men and women of the St. Louis County’s Police Department work every day with our federal partners to enforce these laws. Section 5 and 7 will cause us to disband our local task forces, which have a real impact on violent crime in our community,” the letter states. “Additionally, it will subject our police officers to additional civil liability. Our job is difficult enough without the threat of more lawsuits.”
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson co-wrote an editorial Thursday, issuing his own warnings about the bill which he believes is unconstitutional and “absurd.”
“The prospect of Missouri officials trying to arrest federal agents is unimaginable, but that is what House Bill 436 would allow,” the editorial states. “This legislation is offensive due to the disrespect it shows to federal law enforcement agents. Our partnerships with federal officials are a key part of our strategies for reducing gun violence.”
The bill is sponsored by Doug Funderbunk, R-St. Peters, and co-sponsored by Jones. Funderbunk told KMOX News Thursday that he believes Republicans have enough votes to override the veto next week.
Section 5 of the bill states that “no public officer or employee of this state shall have any authority to enforce or attempt to enforce any of the infringements on the right to keep and bear arms.” Section 7 states “any Missouri citizen who has been subject to an effort to enforce any of the infringements on the right to keep and bear arms…shall have a private cause of action for declaratory judgment and for damages against any person or entity attempting such enforcement.”
Fitch recommends the Missouri House allow Gov. Nixon’s veto to stand and rewrite the bill next session, removing Sections 5 and 7.
“Your local law enforcement agencies are depending on you to help us keep our communities safe,” Fitch wrote.
Missouri Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Ahlbrand said Thursday that allowing HB 436 to become law would halt 90 percent of joint local-federal investigations.
“Certainly drug investigations, certainly violent offender investigations, and certainly Boston bombing investigations. There were guns involved in that,” he said, adding that a collaborative effort between local and federal officials was a key to solving the Boston case.
Ahlbrand says the message sent by the override would be, “Hey criminals, come to Missouri.” Dotson agreed, writing that legislators would be “encouraging criminals to come to Missouri.”
The override votes are likely to be cast on September 11. Ahlbrand says an override on that day would be ironic.
“It smacks in the face of first responders who lost their lives on 9/11.”