SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Jan. 18, 2017) – A bill introduced in the Illinois House would set the foundation to end state enforcement of federal gun control, an important first step to block it in practice within the state.
Rep. David Reis (R-Olney) introduced House Bill 413 (HB413) on Jan. 12. Titled the Second Amendment Preservation Act, the legislation would prohibit state agencies or political subdivisions, along with their employees, from participating in any way in the enforcement of “a federal act, law, order, rule or, regulation enacted or promulgated after the effective date of this act, regarding personal firearms, firearm accessory, or ammunition.”
The bill would also prohibit the use of any assets, state funds or funds allocated by the state to a political subdivision for the enforcement of such gun laws.
State or local government employees who knowingly violate the law would be subject to criminal penalties. Any local government that adopts measures violating the act would lose state grant funds during the next fiscal year.
This would effectively withdraw all state cooperation from the implementation or enforcement of future federal gun laws, an effective method to stop them in practice.
Some gun rights supporters argue that such a measure is “unnecessary” because it addresses a nonexistent problem with a Republican Congress and an NRA-backed president.
“While we’re not expecting any new gun control to come from the federal government in the next few years, there’s no guarantee that we won’t see another Obama-style president in the near future, hell-bent on attacking the right to keep and bear arms,” Boldin said.
Passage of HB413 would cement measures in place should a future Congress or presidential administration attempt to implement new gun control programs, and it sets the foundation to address current unconstitutional violations of the Second Amendment.
“This bill would act as an essential firewall for the future, and would also set the foundation for further action by Indiana against current federal gun control,” Boldin said.
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. 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.”
HB413 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.”
HB413 was referred to the House Rules Committee where it will need to pass by a majority vote before moving on in the legislative process.