Lawsuit targeting Kansas gun law clearly political, AG Schmidt says
By The Herald Staff | 7/9/2014
TOPEKA — A lawsuit taking aim at a Kansas gun law is pure politics, Derek Schmidt said Wednesday.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the state of Kansas in hopes to strike down a state law known as the Second Amendment Protection Act, which declared guns made and kept in Kansas exempt from federal gun laws and made federal regulation of Kansas-made guns a felony. The group called the Kansas law unconstitutional.
Schmidt, Kansas attorney general, said his office would fight the lawsuit.
“We will defend this duly enacted Kansas law that was intended by the Legislature to safeguard Kansans’ rights under the Second and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution,” Schmidt said. “This law has been in effect, unchanged, for more than a year, and the timing and tone of this election-year lawsuit are obviously political. We are reviewing the complaint and will respond in due course and in the proper legal forum.”
The Brady center argues the 2013 Kansas law should be struck down because it attempts to subvert federal regulations based on political preference.
“Courts have recognized for years that states cannot just declare ‘null and void’ federal laws they do not like or wish to enforce,” Jonathan Lowy, Brady center director, said. “Just as Southern states were not allowed to opt-out of federal civil rights laws, the Constitution does not allow Kansas or any other state to nullify federal gun laws that protect Kansans and all Americans from gun violence.”
Gov. Sam Brownback said Monday the state would fight against the lawsuit to protect Kansas’ sovereignty and self-regulation.
“As I have said previously, the right to keep and bear arms is a right that Kansans hold dear,” Brownback said Monday, according to a news release. “It is a right enshrined not only in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, but also protected by the Kansas Bill of Rights.”
In its lawsuit — Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence v. Brownback — the Brady center also argues the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1958 that any and all state laws claiming to nullify federal law are unconstitutional, as states had attempted to circumvent federal desegregation mandates.
“The statute is remarkable for its complete disregard of basic and long-established principles of constitutional law,” Stuart Plunkett, co-counsel in the lawsuit, said.
“Our legal system would quickly breakdown if each of the 50 states were permitted to choose whether or not to follow federal law,” Plunkett said. “The Kansas law is also remarkable for its attempt to resurrect a legal theory from the desegregation and pre-Civil War areas that has been squarely and repeatedly rejected by the United States Supreme Court.”
State Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, and state Reps. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, and Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, voted in support of the 2013 Kansas law.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is named for Jim Brady, President Reagan’s press secretary who was shot in 1981 during an assassination attempt on the president. Brady later became an advocate for stricter gun control.