On April 26, the day after the new Kansas gun law took effect, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback stating that attempting to block federal regulation of some guns is unconstitutional and that the federal government is willing to go to court over the issue.
The U.S. attorney’s office for Kansas released the letter on Thursday.
“Kansas may not prevent federal employees and officials from carrying out their official responsibilities,” Holder wrote in his letter. “And a state certainly may not criminalize the exercise of federal responsibilities.”
But both Governor Brownback and the Secretary of State Kris Kobach are expressing confidence that any legal challenge to the state’s new gun law will not hold up in court.
Brownback wrote back in a letter Thursday that “Kansans hold dear their right to bear arms” and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the former law professor who helped draft the law, accused Holder of “blustering” over the issue.
Via Fox News:
“The people of Kansas have clearly expressed their sovereign will,” Brownback said at the conclusion of his letter. “It is my hope that upon further review, you will see their right to do so.”
The new law declares that the federal government has no power to regulate guns manufactured, sold and kept only in Kansas. It also made it a felony for a federal agent to enforce any law, regulation, order or treaty regulating ammunition made, sold and kept in the state because the federal government does not “interstate commerce” authority over such items.
Holder wrote in his letter to the governor; “under the Supremacy Clause…Kansas may not prevent federal employees and officials from carrying out their official responsibilities. And a state certainly may not criminalize the exercise of federal responsibilities. Because SB102 conflicts with federal firearms laws and regulations, federal law supercedes this new statute; all provisions of federal laws and their implementing regulations therefore continue to apply.”
But Kobach told Fox News, Holder’s analysis is “simplistic and incorrect” and said “the Kansas law is valid to protect the state’s residents against unconstitutional measures enacted by Congress.”
The office of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has already anticipated a potential legal challenge from the federal government, and has asked legislators to increase its budget by $225,000 over the next two years to cover litigation costs.
“We are very, very confident of our position,” Kobach said. “The state of Kansas is not in any way afraid of a legal challenge.”