There were several important victories in the fight to protect the Second Amendment from federal attack during the 2015 legislative session. This sets the stage for further action to block federal infringement on the right to keep and bear arms in 2016.
In light of the recent murders at an Oregon college, Obama is once more trying to use a vicious crime as an excuse to violate our natural right to self-defense via executive orders. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both stated they intend to introduce gun control measures such as magazine capacity limits, background checks and waiting periods. Of course no criminal bothers to obey these laws, but the do encroach on our right to keep and bear arms.
The foundation is set for state action to stop these plans in their tracks.
Sixteen states considered Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA) bills in 2015, and significant laws relating to the Second Amendment went into effect in two states.
A new Tennessee law prohibits the state from implementing or enforcing federal gun measures that would “violate the Tennessee state constitution.” This bill sets the foundation for further action and represents a first step toward stoping many current and future federal measures.
Additional steps can be taken in Tennessee:
- Amend the current law to remove language requiring a judicial determination that a federal act would be counter to the state constitution prior to the state withdrawing support. This would ensure that state participation in federal gun control would end immediately.
- Concurrently introduce new legislation that expressly bans participation in any new federal gun control measure
- Compile a report of federal enforcement actions taken on firearms in Tennessee, highlighting those enforced with the participation of state agencies, and which ones likely violate the new law. From there, state-based gun rights groups can file an injunction to stop state participation under the law already on the books
Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a bill that takes a small, but important, step forward. The new law “Repeals the prohibition against manufacturing, importing, selling, or possessing a sawed-off shotgun.” Enforcement of federal restrictions on such weapons rely on participation between state and federal governments. With the new law, Indiana now authorizes what the federal government restricts, and this sets the stage for people to take things further.
The Montana House and Senate both passed a SAPA as well, but Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed the bill.
As we move into the 2016 legislative season, we are preparing to build on our successes and overcome some of the challenges we faced this year.
In 2014, Idaho passed a bill that bans state enforcement of any future federal laws or acts relating to firearms. This should be the blueprint first step for all states in 2016 and beyond. Idaho can build on this by expanding the ban from future to specific current federal gun control measures, and eventually all of them.
Alaska and Kansas also have laws on the books that set the stage for future action.
In Alaska, HB69 was signed into law in April 2013. It establishes the principle that no state or local agency may use any resources to “implement or aid in the implementation” of any federal acts that infringe on a “person’s right, under the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, to keep and bear arms.”
Like Tennessee, follow up legislation should be introduced that specifically clarifies which federal acts qualify as an infringement, and that expressly prohibits state and local assistance or participation in any enforcement action. Strategically, we recommend starting with any new federal gun control measures as a starting point, with a long-term goal of including all federal acts.
In Kansas, SB102, the 2nd Amendment Protection Act, was also signed into law in April 2013. It establishes the foundation for a ban on state and local assistance or participation in the enforcement of federal gun measures. It reads, in part:
Any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the second amendment to the constitution of the United States is null, void and unenforceable in the state of Kansas.
In a minor legal victory, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Kansas law, saying the suit from the Brady Campaign was “without merit.” While this was a win, it should be noted that the federal court didn’t say that the federal government doesn’t have the power to regulate firearms under the commerce clause, as the Kansas law states. The Brady suit was dismissed for lack of standing.
Moving forward, it is clear that we have numerous opponents to contend with if we are to make further gains.
One of our biggest and most significant detractors were state and local law enforcement. Despite the fact many agencies claim they support the right to keep and bear arms, they had no qualms about opposing their state’s SAPA bill. Some sheriffs declared they would even violate state law to infringe on your gun rights. For many, protecting the Second Amendment would mean risking the loss of all the cool toys they get from the feds via police militarization programs.
At the same time, there are still those who believe in adhering to the Constitution, and we will continue to identify and reach out to those who support our efforts.
The other group standing in our way are the quislings from the “pro gun” Republican party. While Vichy Republican Governor Bullock vetoed Montana’s version of SAPA, mainstream GOP members chairing committees where SAPA bills were being considered refused to push them through for a floor vote.
The only way to overcome this kind of opposition is to create a groundswell of grassroots support that overwhelms the law enforcement lobby and makes wishy-washy politicians fear for their political lives.
It is time to go on the offensive and do what has to be done to get other states to pass their own version of the SAPA.
You play an important part in the fight.
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A farmer does not plow his fields when winter arrives, but during good weather, in anticipation of those colder months, so that when snowy winds blow, he does not fret. In the same way, we must sow the seeds necessary to reap a bountiful harvest of liberty in the future by ensuring that regardless of the tyranny politicians in D.C. hatch violating our gun rights, they will have to go it alone. States will not come to their aid. Without the cooperation of the states, no federal gun control law can succeed.