PHOENIX (Mar. 19, 2015) – Today, an Arizona House committee passed a bill that would effectively block any new federal gun control measures in the state by withdrawing all state participation and enforcement. It previously passed the full state Senate, 17-12, and today’s vote was 5-3.
Introduced by Sen. Kelli Ward, Senate Bill 1330 (SB1330) would prohibit state agencies and employees from enforcing – or even assisting in the enforcement of – any new “federal act, law, order, rule or regulation” that restricts ownership of a personal firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition within Arizona.
“We have to put our foot down and express our sovereignty,” said Ward.
This language puts the bill in harmony with recently amended Article 2, Section 3 of the Arizona Constitution, also known as Proposition 122, which voters approved last fall to enshrine a process to refuse state cooperation with unconstitutional federal acts in the state constitution.
SB1330 is similar to a bill that was signed into law in Idaho last year, and was passed by the Montana Legislature this month. It has received support from Gun Owners of America and Arizona Citizens Defense League, the state’s preeminent pro-gun lobby.
“Passage of SB1330 will draw a line in the sand and ensure that the feds will have an extremely difficult time trying to get any new gun control measures enforced in Arizona,” said Scott Landreth of ShallNot.org. “This sets the foundation for further action if passed. From there, Arizona gun rights activists will have something to build on until all federal gun control is where it belong – dead and gone.”
LEGAL AND EFFECTIVE
Opposition was strong from both Lyle Mann of the Arizona peace officers standards and trainings board and Rep. Stefanie Mach (D-Tucson). Mann didn’t want to ban the state from participating in future federal gun control, because, as he claimed, agencies like the TSA are constantly changing regulations, and this could have the effect of stopping state agents from someday flying while armed in the future.
“The fact is that the vast majority of federal laws or rules on guns and ammo have a direct infringement on the right to keep and bear arms,” said Landreth. “In the rare case that the feds might, possibly, maybe change something for the positive in the future is no reason to keep the status quo, that is – Arizona continuing to help the feds violate our right to keep and bear arms.”
On the other hand, Mach claimed the bill was “blatantly unconstitutional,” but this couldn’t be further from the truth for anyone versed in modern Supreme Court jurisprudence and the advice of the Founders.
Refusing to participate with federal enforcement has been sanctioned by the Supreme Court in a number of major cases, dating from 1842. The 1997 case, Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone. In it, Justice Scalia held:
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.
As noted Georgetown Law Constitutional Scholar Randy Barnett has said, “This line of cases is now considered well settled.”
Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” is an extremely effectively method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership in the states.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a recent televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.
Introduction comes at a time when several other states are considering similar bills, building momentum and support for the effort to block federal gun control at the state level.
“We know from experience that when ten or more states pass laws that seek to block federal acts, the federal government has an extremely difficult time with enforcement,” said Michael Gibbs of ShallNot.org.
SB1330 will now move to the House Rules committee for further consideration.
TAKE ACTION IN SUPPORT
In Arizona: Follow the steps to support this bill at THIS LINK
ALL OTHER STATES:
Urge your state rep and senator to introduce a similar bill. Send them the link the model legislation at this link:
contact info here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator
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