KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CN) - The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence sued Kansas Governor Sam Brownback in Federal Court, challenging a state law that makes it a felony to attempt to enforce federal gun laws in Kansas.
The Brady Campaign sued Brownback and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Wednesday. At issue is Kansas' "Second Amendment Protection Act," which went into law on April 25, 2013.
The Brady Campaign claims the bill is unconstitutional because it is designed to nullify federal law.
The Brady Campaign, named for former presidential press secretary James Brady, who was wounded in the assassination attempt on President Reagan, is a nonprofit that seeks to reduce gun deaths.
"The United States Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller
, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), and subsequent federal courts, have made clear that the Second Amendment allows for reasonable firearms regulations, confirming the constitutionality of virtually all, if not all, existing and proposed federal firearms laws," the complaint states. "Yet the [Second Amendment Protection] Act purports to 'declare' the invalidity and inapplicability of federal law to 'Kansas' firearms and firearm accessories. In sweeping language, the Act states that such firearms and accessories are 'not subject to any federal law, treaty, federal regulation, or federal executive action, including any federal firearm or ammunition registration program ....' The Act extends not just to a purported subclass of 'Kansas' firearms and accessories-it also explicitly attempts to nullify any and all federal laws that the State of Kansas might deem inconsistent with its interpretation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. In the unmistakable language of nullification, the Act provides: 'Any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the second amendment to the constitution of the United States is null, void and unenforceable in the state of Kansas.'"
The Brady Campaign says the bill makes it a felony for any government representative to attempt to enforce federal gun laws in Kansas.
"Because this provision extends to 'agents' of federal officials and employees, it could impose criminal liability on state and local officials or employees, including state law enforcement personnel, who work in conjunction with federal officials on law enforcement efforts," the complaint states. "Indeed, the Act specifically prohibits any 'official, agent or employee of the state of Kansas, or any political subdivision thereof,' from enforcing or attempting to enforce any of the purportedly nullified federal laws. These vague and undefined prohibitions violate due process rights guaranteed by the United States and Kansas Constitutions."
The Brady Campaign says U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter to Brownback stating that the law was unconstitutional.
"The blatantly unconstitutional nullification effort embodied in the Act evokes similar efforts by states in the 1950s during the Civil Rights Movement to nullify federal law mandating the integration of black students into all-white public schools," the complaint states.
The plaintiff claims the law will harm Kansas residents because it could put guns in the hands of criminals and undocumented aliens. It says the law could allow undocumented and unlicensed gun sales and could prevent background checks for gun purchases.
The Brady Campaign claims that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who co-wrote the bill, recently disclosed ownership interest in Minuteman Defense LLC, a gun producer. Minuteman plans to produce a gun similar to the AR-15, the complaint states. The plaintiffs say the AR-15, which was designed for military use, was used in several mass shootings, including high-profile mass murders in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.
"The Act is unconstitutional on its face and should be enjoined," the complaint states. "It violates the Supremacy Clause and due process guaranteed by the United States Constitution. It also violates due process, as guaranteed by the Kansas Constitution. Plaintiff, through its members, and citizens of Kansas and other states will continue to suffer serious and irreparable injury if the Act is not declared unconstitutional and permanently enjoined."
The Brady Campaign is represented by James R. Wyrsch with Wyrsch Hobbs Mirakian in Kansas City, Mo.