A national gun control group on Wednesday challenged the constitutionality of a Kansas law that nullifies federal gun laws in the state.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence alleges the law’s provisions are “unconstitutional on their face under long-standing, fundamental legal principles.”
“Neither the Kansas legislature, nor any state legislature, is empowered to declare federal law ‘invalid,’ or to criminalize the enforcement of federal law,” the complaint asserts.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
Eileen Hawley, a spokesperson for Brownback, said, "It's unfortunate the Brady Center has chose to file such a politicized lawsuit. The governor is going to continue to protect the constitutional rights of Kansans."
The law, titled the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” exempts all guns manufactured in Kansas that haven’t left the state from federal gun control laws. The law was passed by an overwhelming margin and enjoyed bipartisan support.
Brownback signed the law in April 2013 shortly after signing another measure allowing concealed weapons in public buildings.
“We do think that it is extremely important to send a message to state legislature around the country that an attempt to exempt themselves from important federal gun laws is not permitted, is unconstitutional," Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center's Legal Action Project, said in a teleconference with reporters Wednesday morning.
The lawsuit compares Kansas’ efforts to nullify federal law to efforts by states in the 1950s during the Civil Rights movement to abrogate federal laws mandating integration of black students into all-white schools.
“The Supreme Court of the United States held unequivocally that such nullification efforts are unconstitutional,” the suit states.
After the law was passed, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder threatened legal action, saying it put federal officials in a legal bind.
The law makes it a felony for federal authorities to enforce federal gun laws in the state.
Brownback responded to Holder's letter, stating “The right to keep and bear arms is a right that Kansans hold dear. The people of Kansas have repeatedly and overwhelmingly reaffirmed their commitment to protecting this fundamental right.”