The Missouri General Assembly recently passed House Bills No. 85 and 310, known as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act”. The bill was also approved by Gov. Mike Parson.
At the O’Fallon City Council’s June 24 meeting, the council stated that the act has broadened standing to bring lawsuits and has granted residents and others, including those who have no injury and no involvement in any action prohibited under the act, the right to seek redress against the city and its officers.
The council also expressed concern that residents are even incentivized to bring lawsuits in that a resident may be awarded all or part of the civil penalty prescribed in the act and his/her attorney fees without running the risk of paying the city’s attorney fees if the action is deemed frivolous.
To protect the O’Fallon Police Department from ambiguities in the act and potential resulting lawsuits, the council voted 8–2 to approve a resolution (06-24-2021G) declaring it to be the interpretation and policy of the city that any action, taken by personnel performing law enforcement duties on behalf of the city that are within the employee’s scope of employment and that would otherwise be deemed as lawful and appropriate but for the provisions of the act will be deemed lawful conduct.
The resolution states it is the council’s intent to pursue steps to ensure the defense and indemnification of any employee named as a defendant in an action brought under the Act, provided that the employee’s conduct is not wrongful for reasons other than the provisions of the act.
The resolution will no longer be effective in the event that a court of competent jurisdiction holds the Act its vague provisions to be invalid or void, or in the event that the Missouri General Assembly amends or repeals the provisions set forth in the act.
Council members Deana Smith (Ward 1) and Katie Gatewood (Ward 5) voted no, stating they did not believe the resolution is needed because O’Fallon police officers already are protected by provisions already in place.
Ward 4 council members Jeff Kuehn and Dr. Jim Ottomeyer, Dave Hinman (Ward 1), and Nathan Bibb (Ward 3) spoke in favor of the resolution, citing what they saw as ambiguities in the law and the council’s desire to openly and proactively support the police officers.
Kuehn said, “I want the 119 officers out there every day to know we’ve got your back.”