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Hearing This Week for Rhode Island Bill that Would Take On New Federal Gun Control

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (March 20, 2016) – A Rhode Island House committee has a Tuesday hearing scheduled for a bill prohibiting the use of state resources to enforce new federal gun control laws.

A House Judiciary Committee hearing March 22 will consider House Bill 7680, which would prohibit state law enforcement agencies from either enforcing or aiding federal officers in the enforcement of “any federal act, law, order, rule, or regulation issued, enacted or promulgated on or after the effective date of this act regarding a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition.”

The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning when the House gets underway in room 101.

If passed, any state official who violates these provisions would be fined no more than $3,000. A second violation would constitute a misdemeanor offense.

Second Amendment Preservation Acts like H7680 rest on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine., in which states refuse to enforce unconstitutional or unpopular federal laws.

The Rhode Island Constitution states in Section 22 that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

There is no exception to this provided for state, let alone the federal government. For those who might think it’s a “collective right,” doesn’t even mention the word “militia.”

The bill explicitly refers to this doctrine and its sound constitutional standing among the courts and support among the Founders. (emphasis added):

That this right to be free from the commandeering hand of the federal government has been most notably recognized by the United States Supreme Court in Printz v. United States when the court 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.”; and

That the anti-commandeering principles recognized by the United States Supreme Court in Printz v. United States are predicated upon the advice of James Madison, who in Federalist #46 advised “a refusal to cooperate with officers of the union” in response to either unconstitutional federal measures or constitutional but unpopular federal measures.

In short, this bill would ensure that new federal gun control measures would be in effect nullified.


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 effective 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 nullify in effect many federal actions. 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.”

Louisiana gun-rights activist Trevor Ray put it this way in a comment on Facebook, “While the FBI/ATF can still operate business as usual, they couldn’t effectively investigate and enforce these laws without the local/state authorities handling most of the legwork and logistics, they’re usually just the purse strings. Well done.”


H7680 will have to pass the Justice Committee by a majority vote  before moving on to the full House for further consideration.


In Rhode Island, call all the members of the committee and ask them to vote YES on H7680.  Find their contact info here

All other states, contact your state legislator and encourage them to introduce similar legislation to stop federal gun control at this link.