While police officers have frequently expressed opposition to strict gun control measures, one Missouri law meant to expand gun rights has some cops speaking out in protest.
O’Fallon Police Chief Philip Dupuis is reportedly stepping down over the state’s hardline “Second Amendment Sanctuary” law.
“A flood of weaponized litigation”
The newly enacted legislation allows police departments to face civil liability up to $50,000 for seizing firearms.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed the bill into law, which prevents officers from enforcing federal gun laws, last week. It is the latest in a move by GOP-led states across the country to pre-emptively shield Second Amendment rights from infringement by federal entities.
For Dupuis, however, the law is too broad and could unfairly punish officers for making “good faith, justified seizures” of firearms. Ultimately, he said it would make the general public less safe.
The outgoing chief said he supports the right to bear arms, but that the state law enables “frivolous” lawsuits designed to “harass” local police departments of officers for doing their jobs.
“This vague language will create a flood of weaponized litigation that will chill the legitimate peacekeeping duties of police,” Dupuis said.
“They need to recognize their mistake”
He went on to argue that the impact of the law will be to “decrease public safety and increase frivolous lawsuits designed to harass and penalize good, hard-working law enforcement agencies.”
For its part, the Department of Justice has warned Parson that he has no authority under which to enforce the law, citing the U.S. Constitution’s so-called Supremacy Clause. The governor has indicated a desire to fight “tooth and nail” to protect the Second Amendment.
Dupuis said that if President Joe Biden attempts to seize certain classifications of firearms, he would support enforcing the sanctuary law if it meant departments, not individual cops, were held financially liable.
Of course, Missouri Republicans addressed this very issue in February, affirming that law enforcement agencies would be on the hook for any fines that result from improper seizures.
Nevertheless, Dupuis said that he would not return to the agency unless state officials revise the law, adding: “They need to recognize their mistake and immediately go back to the drawing board. Unfortunately, until they do, I am going to have to step away from a job I truly love.”