JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV.com) - A new Missouri law that took effect just last month is being widely rebuked by law enforcement across the state.
Supporters tell News 4 Investigates it's meant to reinforce support for the Second Amendment, but many police officers say it's incredibly problematic for your safety. Now, even Governor Mike Parson, who signed the law, says it needs to be revisited.
“I got a call that my grandson was laying in the street,” said Byron Misheaux. His 15-year-old grandson was gunned down in an apparent attempted robbery a few years ago. He was shot working the family store in north St. Louis.
“Too many mothers crying, too many kids dying,” he said.
Far too many people know that gun violence runs rampant in St. Louis. That’s why Byron says he can't believe the Missouri legislature passed the Second Amendment Preservation Act. It was passed overwhelmingly by the Republican legislature earlier this year and signed by Parson. On his website, Parson writes that the law "demonstrates our commitment to reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property.”
But, while it seems to just champion the Second Amendment on its face, the law has been gaining national attention from outlets like the AP, CNN and the New York Times because many law enforcement officers really don’t like it.
O'Fallon, Missouri Police Chief Philip Dupuis even resigned over it, saying it’s designed to harass and penalize police officers. Officers could face a $50,000 fine each time they cooperate with the federal government on gun cases.
“People are going to be able to file frivolous lawsuits against good cops out there doing their jobs trying to protect the good citizens of this community,” Dupuis said.
The problem is that the law has seriously called into question local and state partnerships with federal agencies like the DEA and the ATF, who often work together to curb crime.
“The specific attack on the relationship between the federal law enforcement officers and the state is particularly problematic,” said Adjunct Assistant Professor Keith Taylor at John Jay College and a former NYPD officer.
He says the federal partnerships are hugely important. That's why St. Louis City, St. Louis County and Jackson County have filed suit to fight the law. The Department of Justice has even weighed in saying the law has already done "significant damage to federal law enforcement operations," and writing that nearly 25 percent of the state and local officers assigned to ATF task forces have already withdrawn.
State troopers, too, are no longer working with the feds on cases involving guns, and the Columbia, Missouri Police Department stopped participating in the federal ballistics database that has generated over 6,000 leads on crimes in the last three years.
“An interference with that is that basically, the bad guys are going to take advantage of this,” Taylor said.
Late last month, a judge upheld the law, and the case is now being appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. Citing the pending appeal, major metro departments declined to talk on-camera to News 4, but police chiefs around the state aren't being so shy.
“Even the criminal can see our hands are being tied on that and we can't even work together,” said Cape Girardeau Police Chief Wes Blair. He says despite past federal partnerships helping to solve countless crimes involving guns, they’ve stopped cooperating with the feds, in fear of the law.
“We've told them no. We've been asked to serve a search warrant and we've said, ‘I'm sorry we can’t,’” he said.
Other officers are very concerned that the law has unintended consequences.
“There's not an officer around that wants to take anybody's guns away from them,” said Dexter Police Chief Hank Trout. "It's just this house bill handcuffs law enforcement."
So News 4 took the issue straight to Parson. He says it was meant more as a message to the Biden administration, but acknowledges something has to change.
“We need to find a way to move forward on this, without causing problems for the local law enforcement, or the federal agency,” Parson said.
He thinks the legislature will have to address it.
“We just have to see whether they are willing to do that and find some solutions, but I think there are some things we can correct,” he said.
In the meantime, Byron’s biggest concern is with guns in the hands of criminals, who will be next?
“I know someone is going to be next. Might be me, might be you,” he said.