PHOENIX, Ariz. – (Jan. 25, 2016) – An Arizona bill would prohibit state cooperation with the enforcement all future federal gun control measures, effectively blocking them in practice within the state.
Rep. Anthony Kern (R-Glendale), Rep. Darin Mitchell (R-Dist. 13) and Rep. Steve Montenegro (R-Avondale) filed House Bill 2300 (HB2300). The legislation would prohibit any state or local agency and their employees from knowingly and willingly participating in any way in the enforcement of any future federal act, law, order, rule or regulation issued regarding a personal firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition. The bill would also ban the use of state assets or money in the enforcement of future federal gun laws.
Any local government found to have assisted in the enforcement of such federal gun laws in violation of the act would lose all of its state funding the following year. State or local employers would face criminal penalties for knowingly violating the law.
HB2300 would effectively withdraw all state cooperation from the implementation or enforcement of future federal gun laws.
HB2300 does not require any determination of constitutionality. It doesn’t attempt to physically interfere with federal enforcement of its own laws, but instead simply directs all state agencies to simply stand down. By removing the resources that the federal government relies upon to carry out enforcement, these federal gun laws would be blocked in effect.
Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” represents an extremely effectively method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership from the states.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.
The federal government relies heavily on state cooperation to implement and enforce almost all of its laws, regulations and acts – including gun laws. By simply withdrawing this necessary cooperation, states can stop many federal actions in practice. As noted by the National Governor’s Association during the partial government shutdown of 2013, “states are partners with the federal government on most federal programs.”
“Partnerships don’t work too well when half the team quits,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “By withdrawing all resources and participation in federal gun control schemes, the states can effectively bring them down.”
HB2300 rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program. The anti-commandeering doctrine is based primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone.
“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.”
HB2300 has been referred to the House Judiciary committee where it will need to pass before moving forward.