ST. PAUL, Minn. (March 22, 2016) – A Minnesota bill would prohibit state cooperation with enforcement of future federal gun control measures. Passage would serve to essentially block such federal measures in effect.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) introduced House Bill 2726 (HB2726) on March 8. The legislation bars any state agency or political subdivision, along with their employees and corporations providing services on their behalf, from knowingly assisting the federal government in any investigation, detention, arrest, or search and seizure relating to a future criminal, civil or administrative restriction on firearms, magazines, ammunition, or firearms components.
HB2726 would also prohibit the state from implementing future federal background check requirements on the intrastate transfer of guns between parties that do not possess a federal firearms license.
The legislation includes a statement declaring violations of the Second Amendment null and void in the state.
“Pursuant to the Second Amendment and Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, any attempts by the federal government to place restrictions or limitations on firearms, firearm magazines, ammunition, or components null, void, and of no effect in the state.”
While some may consider this language controversial, it has no impact on the enacting sections of the bill. The refusal to cooperate does not rest on any finding of constitutionality.
If ultimately passed into law, this legislation would not try to block the feds from enforcing their own laws. It would merely require the withdraw of all state cooperation from the implementation or enforcement of any future federal gun control measures, including executive orders, agency rules, or laws passed by Congress.
HB2726 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.”
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.
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.”
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,” Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin said. “By withdrawing all resources and participation in federal gun control schemes, the states can effectively bring them down.”