PROVIDENCE, RI. (Feb. 27, 2016) – A Rhode Island bill would bill would bar state cooperation with any future federal gun control measures, effectively blocking them in practice within the state.
Representatives Robert Nardolillo, Michael Chippendale, Justin Price and Sherry Roberts introduced House Bill 7680 (H7680) on Feb. 24. Titled theSecond Amendment Preservation Act, the legislation would prohibit state agencies, political subdivisions, and their employees from knowingly and willingly participating in any way in the enforcement of any future federal act, law, order, rule, or regulation regarding a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition. The bill would also prohibit the utilization of state assets, state funds, or funds allocated by the state to its political subdivisions for enforcement of the same.
The bill’s findings lay out the purpose of the legislation.
“It is the intent of the General Assembly in enacting this Act to protect employees of this State, including law enforcement officers, from being directed, through federal executive orders, agency orders, statutes, laws, rules, or regulations enacted or promulgated on or after the effective date of this Act, to violate their oath of office and individual rights affirmed under the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and R.I. Const., Art 1, Sec 22.”
“Gun rights activists already know what hostile territory Rhode Island is,” said Michael Boldin, Executive Director of the Tenth Amendment Center. “That’s why this bill is so important. It’s a flag the for people to rally to.
Boldin suggested that, like the state’s limited medical marijuana law, which some people are now looking to expand, this bill could become a powerful starting point for those who want to protect the right to keep and bear arms.
While H7680 was drafted to protect the right to keep and bear arms from federal infringement and to support the Second Amendment, it does not require any determination of constitutionality. It simply directs all state agencies to simply stand down, a powerful strategy advised by the “Father of the Constitution.”
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. 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.”
H7680 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.”
H7680 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee where it will need to pass by a majority vote before moving on to the full House for consideration.