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 Lots of Misunderstanding on Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA)

Photo by Jeremy Shields
submitted by Livingston County Sheriff Steve Cox

 

There has been much talk, concern, and rumors this year about President Biden and national democrat leader’s intentions about our 2nd Amendment Rights, firearms, ammunition, clips and taxes.  I am a very staunch supporter of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms and have been since a young boy when my grandfather taught me firearm safety along with hunting and reloading skills.

The Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA) by title is something most anyone would believe has the best interests of all gun owners and will protect all of us from an overreaching federal government.  Wrong!

I want to stress the appreciation I do have for our legislators who truly wish to protect and preserve our 2nd Amendment.  I believe there are some great people in state government wanting to do what is right and protect all of us from gun control.  Unfortunately there are very serious consequences from SAPA or Senate Bill 39 and House Bill 85 as written.  Yes the bills language tells local and state law enforcement they shall not work or communicate with federal agencies, agents, officers on basically anything involving firearms with the intent to send a specific message to the federal government and President Biden about our firearm rights.  The problems arise with the rest of the language in both bills as it directly attacks local law enforcement officers, their political subdivisions and ultimately you the local tax payer.

Both bills originally harshly penalize law enforcement officers in Missouri and their supervisors for basically any act or communication with a federal agency or agent involving a firearm.  For example if a FBI agent were to call our office to let us know they were in town and looking for a certain federal fugitive and a deputy explained the suspect may be staying at a specific address and may possess a firearm.  If either of these bills were current law that deputy and his/her supervisor(s), most likely me, would lose our peace officer license for LIFE in the State of Missouri and be out of a job!  Why?  Simply because we had communication with a federal agent about a firearm.  The bills use the word “material fact” or information but has no definition of what that is, therefore, the deputy may have provided officer safety information but at the cost of his/her employment and law enforcement career for LIFE.  WOW.

The House Bill has since had some language changed so that it will not punish the individual officer directly but instead punish the political subdivision.  For example if a Chillicothe Police Officer reported the same information as above, then literally any citizen could complain through Livingston or Cole County Courts about this and the City of Chillicothe would be out minimum of $50,000 plus attorney and filing fees.  Understand with civil actions the winner only needs 51% of the case for a judgement unlike criminal court where the threshold is “beyond a reasonable doubt” for a conviction.  This means anyone can file at any time on any agency and each political subdivision must defend the claim in court and prove no conversations or “material fact” ever took place.  What are the costs of that?  Think certain anti law enforcement groups would jump on board and file frivolous suits to simply to harass the police?  What will it cost the tax payer to defend each case?  What about recruiting, hiring and training officers to replace those lost in your local police or sheriff’s office each time?

The basic idea of SAPA is to keep local law enforcement from helping the feds seize your AR15 or other firearms President Biden may want to eliminate.  Frankly, this is not going to happen with this office as long as I am here and I know of no sheriff who wants to seize your weapons for the feds or turn good people into criminals.  The result is the legislators will only be forcing the federal agencies, state and local law enforcement to cease all communications.  Currently if a federal agency is here on an investigation they notify local law enforcement out of courtesy but if SAPA becomes state law that will cease.

Another consequence concerns NITRO which is an ATF Task Force made up of deputy sheriffs and police officers from multiple local agencies.  NITRO would most likely be out of business once this becomes law as those officers cannot wear two hats and serve two entities and not be directly in violation of SAPA.  We communicate frequently and work with NITRO on all types of crimes.  NITRO does an amazing job at taking down major drug traffickers and violent felons that has direct impact on our rural communities.  There are huge amounts of drugs sold in the city and several of our local criminals/dealers go there or send others to frequently pick up drugs to be sold here.

Seriously the only thing Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations, Antifa and Violent Criminals fear is prosecution through Federal Court where they know they will serve 85% or more of their time.  Those people and groups would absolutely support SB 39 and HB 85 as written because they will not get prosecuted federally.  These bills tie the hands of law enforcement and eliminates a powerful and useful tool we currently have.

Look at the example of a Bank Robbery; responded to immediately by local law enforcement and investigation subsequently taken over by the FBI and prosecuted through federal court.  With SAPA in place if a local law enforcement officer catches a bank robber fleeing the bank, by SAPA law that officer and agency will not be able communicate in any manner with the feds or turn over the weapon, money, evidence or information to the feds for federal prosecution or risk being kicked out of law enforcement for life and/or costing their employer $50 grand and attorney fees.  If the agency/officer refuses to turn this evidence and information over guess what happens next?  Those officers and department head could end up in front of a federal grand jury and potently be charged for crime(s) in federal court all thanks to SAPA!

Again, I am all about the 2nd Amendment and preserving all of our rights as United States Citizens and I am confident many of our state Representatives and Senators share this view.  What I cannot support is bad language in bills that create horrible legislation and I believe part of my duty is to report such information to you.  Our legislators can make good law that is not filled with loopholes, punishes and attacks law enforcement officers and still get the message across to the leaders in federal government.  Please note that nothing in SAPA language will prevent any federal agency or agent from coming here and doing what the President orders, but instead will only stop communication between the different levels of law enforcement.  The results will only make many situations more dangerous and costly for everyone.

The actions in Jefferson City have sparked some county commissions in Missouri to pass their own county “SAPA” ordinances.  These too in my opinion are nothing more than “feel good” legislation and most likely will not hold water in any court of law.

Communication is a good thing at all levels.   Let’s stand together to support the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  Our ancestors had firsthand knowledge as to why we must have the 2nd Amendment in place. History should be preserved and learned from.

Thank you for reading this editorial.

 

Sheriff Steve Cox

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