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Missouri Bill Would Block Federal Gun Control; Past, Present, or Future

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Jan. 13, 2016) – A bill filed in the Missouri House yesterday would declare all federal gun control measures to be invalid, and block their enforcement in practice in the state.

Introduced by Rep. Jeffrey Pogue (R-Salem), House Bill 2196 (HB2196), the Second Amendment Preservation Act, would block federal gun control measures that “infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution” within the state.

This would include, but is certainly not limited to, excessive taxes or fees, mandated registration, potential confiscation and any future bans on firearms and/or ammunition. The bill states, in part:

“All federal acts, laws, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, and regulations, whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution shall be invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, shall be specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.” [emphasis added]

This sets up the central provision of the bill. HB2196 would prohibit public officers and employees of the state from enforcing or attempting to enforce “any federal acts, laws, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances, infringing on the right to keep and bear arms” as defined therein.

“While federal courts will likely never recognize the declaration voiding federal acts violating the right to keep and bear arms, that doesn’t really matter,” Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said. “The meat of the bill is in state refusal to cooperate with federal enforcement. There is no question that this is a legitimate, legal approach. Nothing in the Constitution – or even modern court precedent – says the state of Missouri has to help the feds violate your rights. The dirty little secret is, they feds can’t do it without help from the states. They don’t have the resources. This provision will block federal gun laws in practice and effect. That’s all that matters.”

EFFECTIVE

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 televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.

This is because a vast majority of federal enforcement actions are either led or supported by law enforcement – and other agencies – on a state level. 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.”

A partnership doesn’t work too well when one side stops working. By withdrawing all resources and participation in federal gun control schemes, the states can effectively bring them down.

LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL

Refusing to participate with federal enforcement is not just an effective method, it has also 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.”

WIDE-RANGING

HB2196 is no mere statement of principle, as noted by its express prohibition on material support and enforcement by state officials. It also expressly lists what types of federal acts fall under the scope of this prohibition, “including, but not limited to”

(1) Any tax, levy, fee, or stamp imposed on firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition not common to all other goods and services which might reasonably be expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;
(2) Any registering or tracking of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition which might reasonably be expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;
(3) Any registering or tracking of the owners of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition which might reasonably be expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;
(4) Any act forbidding the possession, ownership, or use or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition by law-abiding citizens; and
(5) Any act ordering the confiscation of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition from law-abiding citizens

NEXT STEPS

HB2196 will need strong grassroots support to pass the Republican-controlled state legislature. If history is any indication, Democrat Governor Jay Nixon will veto the bill if passed, which means that a two-thirds majority in both legislative houses will be needed in order to override his veto. Republicans failed to override Govenor Nixon’s veto of a similar bill in 2013 by a single vote.

TAKE ACTION IN SUPPORT

In Missouri, follow all the steps to support this bill at THIS LINK

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

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