A national gun-control group said Monday that it plans to challenge a Kansas law making it a felony for U.S. government employees to attempt to enforce federal regulations for guns manufactured, sold and kept only in the state.
The Washington-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said it would file a federal lawsuit Wednesday in Kansas. The center has scheduled a telephone conference call for reporters and a news conference at the offices of a Kansas City, Missouri, law firm.
In announcing its plans, the center did not provide details, other than to say the lawsuit will argue that the Kansas statute is unconstitutional. The law was enacted in 2013.
Montana enacted a similar law in 2009, but a federal appeals court struck it down last year, concluding that the courts already have said Congress can use its power to regulate interstate commerce to set rules for guns. The U.S. Supreme Court twice refused to review the case.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback promised the state would “vigorously defend” the Kansas law, which declares that the federal government has no authority to regulate Kansas-only guns, ammunition or accessories.
“The right to keep and bear arms is a right that Kansans hold dear,” Brownback said in a statement. “The people of Kansas have repeatedly and overwhelmingly reaffirmed their commitment to protecting this fundamental right.”
Under the Kansas law, a U.S. government employee convicted for the first time of attempting to enforce federal regulations on Kansas-only guns, ammunition and accessories could be ordered to serve up to seven months in prison, though the presumed sentence would be probation. The state’s attorney general or a county prosecutor could file lawsuits to block federal enforcement actions.