By ROXANA HEGEMAN | Associated Press
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge rejected a challenge Friday to a Kansas law that makes it a felony for U.S. government workers to regulate guns and ammunition made, sold and kept only in the state, ruling that the gun control group that filed the suit failed to prove its members are directly harmed by the law.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled the federal court lacks jurisdiction to consider the merits of the lawsuit because the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence didn’t show the state’s enforcement of the law inflicts an actual or imminent injury to any of its members.
In her 25-page ruling, Robinson granted the state’s motion to entirely dismiss the case without prejudice, meaning it could be refiled.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office issued a news release saying the statute will remain in force.
“This legal challenge lacked merit, and I appreciate the federal court’s ruling that the Washington, D.C.-based plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge this duly enacted Kansas law,” Schmidt said.
Attorneys for the Brady Campaign did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the ruling.
At issue in the case is a 2013 state law called the Second Amendment Protection Act that makes it a felony for any U.S. government employee to attempt to enforce federal regulations for Kansas-only firearms, ammunition and gun accessories. It allows lawsuits by the state attorney general or county prosecutors to block federal enforcement attempts.
The federal court ruling Friday and the recent changes to state gun laws haven’t affected how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives handles violent gun crime in the state of Kansas, ATF spokesman John Ham said.
“We continue to operate as we have operated in the state of Kansas for many, many years,” Ham said. “Our objective is to reduce violent gun crimes.”
The Kansas law is similar to ones in Alaska and Idaho, written to apply to a limited number of guns that supporters believe don’t fall under the federal government’s power to regulate interstate commerce. A federal appeals court has dismissed that argument in striking down a similar 2009 Montana law, and the U.S. Supreme Court has refused twice to review the case.
The Brady Campaign contended in its lawsuit that the Kansas law, by nullifying federal gun control laws designed to ensure public safety, makes the state a more dangerous place. It argued the law imposed an unacceptable risk of future gun violence on the organization’s Kansas-based members.
But Robinson said such an argument is “too abstract and speculative” to give the organization or its members standing to sue.
“Moreover, it is impossible to say who, among the millions of people potentially affected by the Act, might someday suffer injury as a result of the asserted risk of harm imposed by its enforcement,” the judge wrote.