COLUMBIA, S.C., Dec. 3, 2014 – Virtually all federal gun control measures – past, present and future – would be effectively blocked in South Carolina if two bills filed today pass into law.
Introduced by Sen. Lee Bright, Senate Bill 117 (S. 117), the South Carolina Firearms Liberty Act is similar to bills under consideration in both Texas and Kentucky. It bans enforcement of all federal acts restricting firearms, accessories and ammunition within the state. It reads, in part:
State and local law enforcement officials are prohibited from enforcing any act, law, statute, rule or regulation of the United States government relating to a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that is possessed, owned, or manufactured commercially or privately in South Carolina and remains exclusively within the borders of South Carolina.
While the only opening for enforcement would be newly-purchased firearms brought in from other states, the act would grandfather in all that are currently-owned and prohibit the state from enforcing federal restrictions on them.
Scott Landreth, national lead for the ShallNot campaign, considered this a big step forward. “Every state helps the feds enforce their gun control in major ways,” said Landreth. “The federal government simply cannot enforce gun control in South Carolina without the help of South Carolina.”
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a recent televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.
Landreth pointed out that this section of the bill also addresses the status quo. “Passage would encourage private and local manufacturing of new firearms moving forward. This could create a climate where federal gun control acts of 1934 and 1968 will be under direct attack by the state of South Carolina,” he added.
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 20 years old and considered well settled.”
S.117 also includes a prohibition on federal enforcement within the state. It reads, in part:
Any official, agent, or employee of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce any act, order, law, statute, executive order, rule, or regulation of the United States government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is possessed, owned, or manufactured commercially or privately in South Carolina and that remains exclusively within the borders of South Carolina shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine of not more than five thousand dollars and imprisonment of up to five years, or both.
Landreth agreed in principle. “When we break the law, government will try to come after us and arrest us. Violating your right to keep and bear arms should also be illegal, no matter who does it,” he said. “But, we recognize that getting such a provision passed in the current political climate in South Carolina is going to be very difficult. So even if they have to remove this section, the bill will be very powerful, and would set the stage for stronger actions moving forward.”
Another bill introduced by Bright would act as another line of defense against federal gun control measures. Senate Bill 125 (S.0125) declares unconstitutional “All federal acts, laws, executive orders, rules, regulations, or other actions regarding the infringement of the rights ensured by the Second Amendment.” It also declares those federal acts to be “void ab initio and have no effect in this State.”
Titled the South Carolina “2nd Amendment Preservation Act” and loosely based on model legislation of the same name from ShallNot.org, the bill seeks to ban enforcement of federal gun control measures by all actors, federal, state and local.
Federal, state, and local law enforcement officers are prohibited from enforcing federal acts, laws, executive orders, rules, regulations, and other actions that violate true meaning and intention of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
“Even if South Carolina couldn’t physically stop federal agents from carrying out these acts in practice, it would be a powerful step to put them on notice,” said Landreth. “In conjunction with 117, these two bills would be a big move towards ending all federal gun control in South Carolina.”
TAKE ACTION IN SUPPORT
In South Carolina: Even though the legislative session doesn’t officially begin for over a month, activists in support of the 2nd Amendment are encouraged to take the following actions:
1. Find your state senator and rep at this link: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
2. Call him or her – a phone call has far more impact than an email. Strongly, but politely ask your senator to co-sponsor and support S117 and S125. Ask your state rep to introduce a companion bill or a similar bill HERE.
3. If they do not commit to a YES, ask them why and let us know.
4. If they’re undecided, let them know you’ll give them some time to review the legislation and that you will call back in a week to follow up.
ALL OTHER STATES:
Urge your state rep and senator to introduce a similar bill. Send them the link the model legislation at this link:
contact info here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator
**WE NEED YOUR HELP TO CONTINUE THIS WORK. PLEASE CHIP IN HERE: http://shallnot.org/donate