Monday, February 24, 2014

Nullification: Federal gun laws may soon not apply in Arizona

Federal gun laws are facing a tough battle.

Phoenix, February 24, 2014 – Arizona could become the latest in a series of states acting to nullify federal gun laws. The Second Amendment Preservation Act would nullify federal gun laws within Arizona borders. State senator Kelli Ward, along with eight other senators, introduced SB1294. The bill, if passed into law, would prohibit the state from enforcing “any federal act, law, order, rule or regulation that relates to a personal firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition within the limits of this state.”

Senator Ward said “We’ve sat back and allowed the federal government to trample the Constitution long enough. We’re going to pass this bill and stop the state of Arizona from helping the feds violate your rights.” The Tenth Amendment Center asserts that the legislation rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. That means the federal government cannot “commandeer” or coerce states into implementing or enforcing federal acts or regulations — constitutional or not.

The anti-commandeering doctrine rests on four Supreme Court cases: Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842) New York v. United States (1992) , Printz v. United States (1997) and Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012). According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the 1997 case, Printz v. United States (1997) serves as the “lynchpin for the anti-commandeering doctrine”. The case specifically addressed state enforcement of federal gun laws. At issue was a provision in the Brady Gun Bill that required county law enforcement officers to administer part of the background check program. Sheriffs Jay Printz and Richard Mack sued, arguing these provisions unconstitutionally forced them to administer a federal program. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling:
“We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”
The Tenth Amendment Center says the blueprint for anti-commandeering doctrine comes from Founding Father, James Madison, in the Federalist 46 of the Federalist Papers. Madison wrote:
“Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”
Judge Andrew Napolitano last year urged states to pass this type of non-compliance legislation, saying that a single state passing such a law would “make federal enforcement of tighter federal gun laws nearly impossible.” Supporters of the Second Amendment Preservation Act, SB129, view the legislation as protecting the Second Amendment rights of Arizona citizens. Supporters also note that other states have enacted – or are in the process of enacting – similar laws to stop federal legislation in violation of the Second Amendment and other protected rights.
Last year, Kansas passed a law that “bars the federal government from regulating guns and ammunition manufactured and stored within Kansas state lines.” The Kansas law criminalize’s federal law enforcement, making any attempt to enforce federal laws a felony if the gun is made in Kansas, stamped “Made in Kansas”, and has not crossed states lines. Missouri is also considering a bill that nullifies federal gun laws within state borders. Florida, likewise, is considering a bill to prevent any “agent of the state or its political subdivisions from participating with or assisting federal agents in the enforcement of federal gun laws.”

By Matt MacBradaigh. Matt is a Christian, Husband, Father, Patriot, and Conservative from the Pacific Northwest. Matt writes about the Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Policy issues and is published on The Bell TowersThe Brenner Brief, PolicyMic. TavernKeepers, and Vocativ.

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This article also appears on The Brenner Brief. (Original publication February 24, 2014).

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