Tallahassee, Janurary 27, 2014– The Florida legislature will consider a bill that would prohibit any state agency from cooperating with enforcement of federal gun laws.
Rep. Dan Eagle (R-Cape Coral) introduced HB733 on Monday. The Second Amendment Protection Act declares that no agent of the state or its political subdivisions may participate with or assist federal agents in the enforcement of unconstitutional federal firearms laws, or provide material support of any kind to federal agents in the enforcement of these laws. State agents and/or contractors who knowingly participate in or provide support for the enforcement of federal firearms laws would be subject to dismissal.
“The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution expressly provides that all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states. Time and time again, Florida has proven that we have the best solutions to our own issues, whether it be healthcare, education, or our balanced budget, which is accomplished without raising taxes. When it comes to protecting our fundamental Second Amendment rights guaranteed by the Constitution, I believe it is best left to be handled by Floridians for Floridians,” Eagle said.
The legislation would not attempt to stop federal agents from enforcing gun laws, but would pull the plug on any state cooperation. 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.
Montana sheriff Jay Printz and Arizona sheriff Richard Mack sued the federal government over provisions in the 1993 Brady Gun Bill that required chief law enforcement officers in each county to administer background checks. The Supreme Court majority held the feds could not force compliance by state officers.
“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.”
Mack has since called working at the state and local level the key to fighting tyranny.
Florida Tenth Amendment Center outreach director Francisco Rodriguez said the proposed act would make it very difficult for the federal government to enforce its gun laws.
“The federal government relies on state and local assistance for almost everything. One source I read indicated that state or local police assist in seven out of every 10 ATF raids. That’s a lot of help that will disappear in the blink of an eye,” he said. “Now imagine if 20 or 30 states followed suit. It would make it virtually impossible for the feds to violate the Second Amendment.”
Florida Tenth Amendment Center state coordinator Andrew Nappi said Rep. Eagle first became interested in this bill almost a year ago and called to discuss the model legislation.
“The timing last year just could not be worked out. But Representative Eagle said he would not forget about this bill and he didn’t. He remained true to his word, and we began working with him on this last fall,” Nappi said. “This is a substantial attempt to push back against federal actions violating the Second Amendment. Representative Eagle has not only kept his word by sponsoring the bill this year, he set an example for others who say they support the Second Amendment, but stop short of taking action.”
Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center indicate a Senate version of the bill will likely be introduced in the next week or so.