RICHMOND, Va. (Feb. 10, 2016) – A bill introduced in the Virginia House would prohibit state and local law enforcement from enforcing – or helping the feds enforce – any executive orders or actions related to firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof that has not been made law by an act of Congress.
Virginia Delegate Scott W. Taylor (R – 85) introduced House Bill 1217 (HB1217) on Monday, January 18th. This bill, which is conceptually similar to a more comprehensive bill filed last month, is intended to thwart unilateral infringements by the President on Virginians natural right to keep and bear arms.
Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no locality shall cooperate with a federal agency through the furnishing of police services for the purpose of enforcing an executive action or order related to firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof that has not been made law by an act of Congress.
The bill goes on to specifically prohibit STATE cooperation:
Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Department of State Police shall not cooperate with a federal agency through the furnishing of police services for the purpose of enforcing an executive action or order related to firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof that has not been made law by an act of Congress.
The federal government depends on state assistance to enforce nearly all of its laws. If passed, HB1217 would effectively block all Executive Orders including President Obama’s recent “New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer” by denying this vital state support. Judge Andrew Napolitano suggested that a single state standing down would make new federal gun laws “nearly impossible to enforce” within that state.
HB1217 follows the blueprint “Father of the Constitution,” created for resisting federal power. In Federalist 46 James Madison outlined several steps that states can take to effectively stop “an unwarrantable measure,” or “even a warrantable measure” of the federal government. Madison called for “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” as a way to successfully thwart federal acts.
Idaho passed a similar, yet more comprehensive, measure in 2014.
The bill 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 and federal act or program The anti-commandeering doctrine rests primarily on four Supreme Court cases 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.”