Supreme Court Issues Overwhelming 8-1 Decision on Second Amendment Preservation Act

By: Lauren | Last updated: May 23, 2024

The debate regarding gun rights in the United States has been heating up over the past several months. While millions of Americans desperately want the government to tighten its stance on gun regulations, millions of others are fighting to keep their Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

The state of Missouri passed the Second Amendment Preservation Act in 2021 to ensure its residents could keep their guns, no matter what the federal government decides. The federal government sued the state for doing so, and the case made its way to the Supreme Court. Finally, a decision has been made, but it’s still not clear exactly what will happen next. 

Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act

In 2021, the state of Missouri passed the Second Amendment Preservation Act. The act stated that “the state of Missouri is firmly resolved to support and defend the United States Constitution against every aggression, either foreign or domestic, and the general assembly is duty-bound to watch over and oppose every infraction of those principles which constitute the basis of the Union of the States.”

Promotional poster for Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act, proposed by Governor Michael L. Parson

Source: @GovernorMikeParson/Facebook

In other words, even if the federal government moves to adjust or tighten restrictions on the right to bear arms, as was dictated in the Second Amendment, the authorities in Missouri will not enforce these regulations. 


What the Second Amendment Preservation Act Actually Says

As well as banning local law enforcement officials from enforcing federal firearms laws that are “unconstitutional,” the law also imposes limits on who can sell firearms and imposes limits on who can own firearms.

Five black handguns in leather holsters placed facedown on the ground next to barbed wire.


One of the groups that have been banned from owning a firearm under the act is those who have committed a felony. Anyone who has been found to have violated this ban can expect to receive a fine of up to $50,000.

What the Second Amendment Actually Says

When the US Constitution was established in the 18th century, it included several amendments that would see the rights of Americans preserved for centuries to come. Even if some think these amendments are now outdated, many Americans still think these traditional values should be upheld in today’s society.

A black handgun placed in a leather holster face down on wooden flooring.


The Second Amendment states that every American has the right to arm themselves and that the government has no right to breach or violate this right. It was essentially done so every American citizen can defend themselves in the event of any threats.

Missouri Stated That It Will Never Enforce Any Restrictions on Gun Regulations

The act explained that, “The people of Missouri have vested the general assembly with the authority to regulate the manufacture, possession, exchange and use of firearms within this state’s borders. … All federal acts, laws, orders, rules and regulations, whether past, present or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms … shall be invalid in this state.”

Photograph of the various law enforcement departments of the state of Missouri

Source: @Missouri State Highway Patrol/Facebook

And that none of their law enforcement agents will abide by or enforce such regulations: “No public officer or employee of this state shall have any authority to enforce or attempt to enforce any of the infringements on the right to keep and bear arms.”

Understanding State vs. Federal Power

The Second Amendment Preservation Act goes on to say, “The limitation of the federal government’s power is affirmed under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. … All power not delegated to the federal government in the Constitution of the United States is reserved to the states respectively.”

Close-up photograph of the U.S. Constitution atop an American flag

Source: Freepik

Which is, in many ways, absolutely accurate. According to the Constitution of the United States, power is distributed between the federal and state governments. As James Madison explained, “The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.”


The Federal Government Sued the State of Missouri for Passing the Second Amendment Preservation Act

However, after Missouri passed their bill the U.S. federal government almost immediately filed a lawsuit against it, arguing that it was unconstitutional, and, therefore, illegal. 

A close-up photograph of a piece of paper that reads “Notice of Lawsuit”

Source: iStock

The lawsuit against the state of Missouri challenged its right to block the federal government’s current or future legislation regarding the right to bear arms. 


The District Court Ruled in Favor of the Federal Government

The district court, ruled by U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes, decided that the Second Amendment Preservation Act was, in fact, unconstitutional, as the federal government claimed. 

A man in a gray suit with a clipboard bangs a judge’s gavel

Source: Freepik

Judge Wimes argued that the act “violates the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which makes clear that state laws cannot invalidate federal laws, and that federal laws trump any inconsistent state laws.”


The State vs Federal Laws

One of the key issues here is the difference between state and federal laws. Even though the state is unable to declare federal law legally void, there are other things the state can do.

The outside of the Supreme Court building. The US flag is on a flagpole outside the building.

Tim Mossholder/Unsplash

What the state can do is express its opinions on the Second Amendment, and  can prohibit state and local officials from enforcing federal law. This is why the federal courts were angry with Missouri state officials, as they had done the very thing they aren’t allowed to do.


Missouri Took the Case to the Supreme Court

But Missouri wasn’t willing to give up, so just a few days later, they took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Judge Wimes’ order was put on hold, which stopped Missouri from enforcing the act until the Supreme Court made its decision. 

Exterior of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

Source: Wikipedia

In October 2023, the Supreme Court finally released its ruling: They agreed that the district court was right in banning Missouri’s law as it was unconstitutional. But again, Missouri appealed the decision through the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and headed back to the courtroom. 


Missouri’s Citizens Weren’t Aware of the Second Amendment Preservation Act

Despite the state of Missouri making such a huge change to its citizens’ gun rights, a study into the thoughts and feelings of this act on the people of Missouri found that many hadn’t been made aware that this act had been put into place.

A black rifle on the ground covered in leaves.

Rex Allen/Unsplash

This raises questions about the relationship between citizens and politicians and their communication. It also suggests that politicians and policy makers should consult with citizens, or at least make them aware of any possible changes that are coming into practice, to prevent them from being innocently caught out.


The Second Amendment Preservation Act Will Increase Safety

Aside from not knowing about it, when the people in the study were brought up to speed with what it meant, many said they believed that this act would increase the overall safety of people living in Missouri. It may be worth noting that the only people involved in this study were gun owners, as non-gun owners were not involved.

A person holding a gun and is standing in a field preparing to shoot it.

Joel Moysuh/Unsplash

However, what the majority of the respondents also said was they believe the act will increase the amount of gun murders, suicides, and theft in the state. This gives further reason as to why citizens should be involved in the consultations of policy making.


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Was the Only to Vote in Favor of Missouri’s Act

The state of Missouri submitted what they believed to be foolproof evidence, including several precedents, that the federal government did not have the Constitutional right to sue them at all, let alone stop them from passing their Second Amendment Preservation Act. 

A photograph of the current U.S. Supreme Court Justices in 2024 with a red circle around Justice Clarence Thomas


However, after both arguments were heard, it was eight against one in favor of the federal government. Missouri will not be allowed to bar current or any future federal restrictions regarding gun rights within state borders as they agreed it was unconstitutional to do so. Well-known Justice Clarence Thomas, a staunch Republican, was the only one to side with Missouri.


Previous Supreme Court Second Amendment Cases

This isn’t the first Second Amendment case the Supreme Court has heard, as many others have gone through the court as far back as the 1800s. One of the more recent cases was in 2022, after the state of New York made it a crime to carry firearms without a license.

The top of the Supreme Court building at sunset.

Ian Hutchinson/Unsplash

The Supreme Court decided to reverse the dismissal of this case, due to the “proper cause” of the case from New York violating the Fourteenth Amendment. This was because it prevented law-abiding citizens with self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to carry firearms.


Americans Views on Gun Control

It’s always interesting to see what the different views of Americans are when it comes to the Second Amendment and gun control. It turns out that 76% oppose a ban on gun ownership, and 72% believe everyone should have the right to own a gun.

A protest against guns. There is a crowd of people and some are holding up signs that say, "No more guns."

Heather Mount/Unsplash

Despite this, over half of Americans believe that there should be some restrictions on people’s access to guns. 56% say there should be a ban on carrying handguns in public places, and 61% say people shouldn’t be allowed to own assault and semi-automatic weapons. 90% also believe registration and background checks should be completed before someone is allowed to buy and own a gun.


Mass Shootings Spark the Gun Banning Conversation

Whenever a mass shooting occurs in any part of America, a conversation is always opened on the Second Amendment and current gun laws, with many in the US and across the world often saying that guns need to be banned.

Two black handguns side by side.


But despite the hundreds of mass shootings that happen in the US, it is never as simple as just banning guns. As the right to carry firearms has been written into the Second Amendment, and with there being such a political divide on what should be done about it, gun control is still something that is often up for debate.


Many Americans Are Worried About Infringements on Their Second Amendment Rights

This case is exceptionally interesting for a myriad of reasons, though there’s no doubt that for many Americans, the fight for or against gun rights is enough to follow a case all the way to the Supreme Court

Several men hold banners and signs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building during a gun rights rally

Source: Reddit

The current U.S. President Joe Biden, has already passed a law which, in his and his supporters’ opinion, increases gun safety. Though to gun rights activists, it’s a direct infringement upon their Constitutional rights. 


This Ruling Will Absolutely Influence the Future of Gun Rights in America

On April 11, 2024, the Biden Administration released a statement that explained a new nationwide firearm regulation as part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. This law “clarifies the type of conduct that requires a person to get a license to sell guns and to conduct background checks,” essentially setting a new, and much higher, standard for both gun sellers and individual firearm licenses across the country. 

A photograph of a handgun, atop a depiction of the U.S. Constitution on an American flag

Source: Adobe Stock

Now, because of the ruling from the Supreme Court regarding the Second Amendment Preservation Act of Missouri, this legislation will be enforced in all 50 states, as will any other law the current or future president passes. 


What Social Media Says

As with anything these days, people on social media express their thoughts and opinions on different matters. Politics seems to be the main issue at play here.

A post on X about the Supreme Court ruling. The post says, "Supreme Court issues 8-1 decision denying Second Amendment Preservation Act protections." The reply says, ""We the people" do not require a Supreme Court decision, nor do we care how any leftist, liberal, globalist or democrat feels about our constitutional rights... they are non negotiable."


One X user said in reply to the news of the ruling, “”We the people” do not require a Supreme Court decision, nor do we care how any leftist, liberal, globalist or democrat feels about our constitutional rights… they are non negotiable.”


Republicans vs Democrats

One of the main differences when it comes to gun rights is whether a person identifies as a Republican or as a Democrat. One study found that Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to own some sort of firearm.

Three black signs against a brick wall. One says, "Republicans did it," another says, "They did it," and the last one says, "Democrats did it."

Derick McKinney/Unsplash

The study also found that in terms of people who don’t currently own a gun, 60% of Republicans and 40% of Democrats said they would consider buying one. Both sides of the political spectrum are also different when it comes to safety. 79% of Republicans say owning a gun increases safety, whereas 78% of Democrats say it reduces safety.


Will the U.S. Federal Government Crack Down on Gun Rights?

Whether or not the U.S. federal government will pass more laws regarding the selling and purchasing firearms is yet to be seen. And with the next presidential election right around the corner, it’s impossible to even guess the future of gun rights in America. 

A faceless woman holds a handgun in front of an American flag

Source: Freepik

If President Biden remains in the Oval Office, he may very well decide to institute stricter gun laws over the next four years. But if former president Donald Trump wins the race, it’s likely that no new gun laws will be passed. And he could even overturn Biden’s licensing legislation. 


Joe Biden’s Gun Control Promise

Biden has already made his thoughts and feelings toward gun control very clear during his first term as President. In 2022, his gun reform legislation was the most comprehensive in over 30 years and helped close various loopholes in previous legislation.

An official portrait of President Joe Biden sitting in front of the US flag.

The White House/Wikimedia Commons

But Biden is not finished. He wants to place a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, claiming that neither of these policies violates the Second Amendment. This promise was made in 2020; however, Congress is not on his side with this.


Donald Trump Will Undo Joe Biden’s Gun Control Measures

Things will look different if Trump is elected to a second term as President. He has said he will undo Biden’s gun control measures, and he has even promised to do this on his first day as President.

Donald Trump at a conference doing a peace sign.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

He told the National Rifle Association that the Biden administration will come for their guns and that he wants to protect their Second Amendment rights. He also said that on his first day as President, he would fire American lawyer Steve Dettelbach from his role as the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, as he is anti-guns.


The Supreme Court Ruling Against Missouri Is About More Than Guns

There’s no doubt that the gun rights debate is extremely important to all Americans, no matter which side they are on. However, the Supreme Court ruling against the Second Amendment Preservation Act is about more than just the right to bear arms. 

A photograph of the White House in Washington, D.C., on a sunny day

Source: Freepik

It’s about states’ rights, or in this case, lack thereof. Missouri Solicitor General Joshua Divine explained, “If the United States may sue any State or state official who expresses a contested view of the Constitution, then law professors, state lawyers and all government officials have cause for serious concern.”