A new law in Kansas that prevents government agents from enforcing federal gun laws in the state is unconstitutional, Attorney General Eric H. Holder said.
“In purporting to override federal law and to criminalize the official acts of federal officers, [the law] directly conflicts with federal law and is therefore unconstitutional,” Mr. Holder wrote to Gov. Sam Brownback in a letter dated April 26. “Federal officers who are responsible for enforcing federal laws and regulations in order to maintain public safety cannot be forced to choose between the risk of a criminal prosecution by a state and the continued performance of their federal duties.”
The measure, known as the Second Amendment Protection Act, prevents any law enforcement official from enforcing any federal regulation or law governing any firearm, accessory, or ammunition “manufactured commercially or privately and owned in Kansas, provided it remains within the borders of Kansas.”
It also exempts any firearm of the same description from federal regulation and allows state officials to enjoin agents from enforcing federal gun laws regarding firearms owned in the state.
Mr. Holder cites the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says federal law trumps conflicting state authority or exercise of power. Kansas’s law became effective April 25.
Mr. Holder wrote that federal authorities “will continue to execute their duties to enforce all federal firearms laws and regulations. Moreover, the United States will take all appropriate action, including litigation if necessary, to prevent the State of Kansas from interfering with the activities of federal officials enforcing federal law.”
Mr. Brownback replied to Mr. Holder on Thursday.
“The right to keep and bear arms is a right that Kansans hold dear,” Mr. Brownback wrote in a letter dated May 2. “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.