Springfield law enforcement weighs in on impact of ‘Second Amendment Preservation Act’

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:38 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott has been vocal throughout his 20 years with the department. He is pro-Second Amendment rights. It’s why when the Second Amendment Preservation Act was first introduced he thought it was a good thing.

“Basically the way the bill was designed or the intent of it. I totally agree with,” he says.

The intent is to protect Second Amendment rights for gun owners by stopping local law enforcement from enforcing federal gun laws.

Some local agencies say this law will prevent them from doing their jobs. Sheriff Arnott doesn’t see it quite that way, but he does see it has changed the way they work.

He gives the example:

“We stop somebody on a vehicle stop,” said Sheriff Arnott. “They have a hunting rifle in the back, you run the numbers and it’s not stolen. But that’s because [the person] just burglarized a house and they’re a convicted felon but the case hasn’t been reported yet. Nine times out of ten we would seize the weapon in the past. If things don’t add up like he doesn’t know where he got the gun, we [usually] would want to seize that gun but now we’ll send it down the road. Now we’ve probably let a stolen gun go down the road.”

And he says that can mean consequences.

“We may not recover as many stolen guns,” said Sheriff Arnott. “Somebody may get killed because, again, it was used in crime that night that we would have had on a car stop earlier. But that’s how the new statue that’s how we’ll operate.”

Republican Senator Eric Burlison sponsored the bill. He says it is designed for law-abiding citizens and has a loud and clear message to the Biden Administration.

“This is a way of reminding the president, that this is the proper role of government, is that these laws are to be handled by the state and not by the federal government,” State Senator Burlison says.

And he says the federal government will of course be able to enforce its own rules and regulations.

“The people that we pay, and that we tax, our tax dollars are going towards, we want to make sure that they’re following the laws that we are passing in this state,” he adds.

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams says day to day, this won’t have an impact on the way officers work.

“I don’t think the street officer worries or cares about this whatsoever,” Chief Williams says. “And I’ve tried to make that clear that this is a very limited potential where it would affect them.”

But he says he has seen the criticism.

“Legislators I’ve talked to say this is preemptive. What if something happens? What if the federal government says start registering and tracking firearms? What if the federal government says we want you to go out and confiscate guns from people? We’re not going to do that,” Chief Williams says. “This helps provide that protection. I’ll say I’ve seen some comments from even some of my peers across the state, who I know haven’t read it completely and totally, to see how it’s gonna affect us and how it’s not,” he adds.

Both Sheriff Arnott and Chief Williams agree there are parts that will likely see change. Some they call “grey areas”

“There’s a couple of things in that law that is probably going to have to go to court for the court to decide what is constitutional and what is not,” Sheriff Arnott says.

Chief Williams can see some tweaks.

“I’m anticipating the legislature will hopefully come back this next session and clear some of that ambiguity up, clarify some things, and make some adjustments to any negative consequences to the public or the police.”

But both say, for now, they will follow the rules, enforce the law, and their focus remains the same keeping citizens safe in our community.

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