PHOENIX, February 3, 2014– The campaign to stop federal violations of the Second Amendment at the state and local level got two big boosts late last week with the introduction of the Second Amendment Preservation Act in Arizona and an important endorsement for a similar bill pending in Florida.
Along with eight other sponsors, Arizona state Senator Kelli Ward introduced the Second Amendment Preservation Act in the Grand Canyon State. SB1294 prohibits the state from enforcing “any federal act, law, order, rule or regulation that relates to a personal firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition within the limits of this state.”
“We’ve sat back and allowed the federal government to trample the Constitution long enough,” Ward said. “We’re going to pass this bill and stop the state of Arizona from helping the feds violate your rights.”
The legislation rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot “commandeer” or coerce states into implementing or enforcing federal acts or regulations – constitutional or not. The anti-commandeering doctrine rests primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. The 1997 case, Printz v. US, serves as the modern 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.”
Such a tactic is an extremely effective way to stop a federal government busting at the seams. Even the National Governors Association admitted this recently when it sent out a press release noting that “States are partners with the federal government in implementing most federal programs.” That means states can create impediments to enforcing and implementing “most federal programs,” including those which impose upon the right to keep and bear arms.
James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” advised this very tactic. Madison supplied the blueprint for resisting federal power in Federalist 46. He outlined several steps that states can take to effective stop “an unwarrantable measure,” or “even a warrantable measure” of the federal government. Anticipating the anti-commandeering doctrine, Madison called for “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” as a method of resistance.
Judge Andrew Napolitano last year urged states to introduce and pass this type of legislation specifically, saying that a single state passing such a law would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible to enforce.”
It’s quite simple; you cannot say you support the Second Amendment and oppose this bill.
Arizona Tenth Amendment Center state chapter coordinator Adam Henriksen agreed.
“Guns and Ammo magazine ranked Arizona number one for gun rights, giving our state a score of 49 out of a possible 50 points. Our legislators know that we won’t let our rights be trampled on,” he said.
Last week, Rep. Dane Eagle (R-Cape Coral) introduced HB733 in the Florida House. Similar to the Arizona bill, it would also bar the state from assisting federal agents in the enforcement of federal firearms laws and from providing material support of any kind to federal agents in the enforcement of these laws.
On Friday, HB733 picked up the endorsement of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Sheriff Richard Mack founded CSPOA, and he was one of the plaintiffs in the Printz case.
Mack said his organization supports the Florida Second Amendment Preservation Act, and would like to see every state take this path.
“This bill is one more needed action in the growing movement to return the powers not expressly given to the federal government back to the States and the People, according to the Constitution. We are in league with this legislation, and we encourage every state to enact similar laws”, said Sheriff Richard Mack (Ret.), founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (cspoa.org). CSPOA is in the process of communicating it’s support to legislatures around the country, according to Rick Dalton, CSPOA legislative liaison. “Our members are on the front lines and this kind of law will aid us in standing firm in defense of the rights of the people we serve”, said Sheriff Mack.
CSPOA just held a conference last week where all those present signed a resolution putting the federal government on notice that lawless and unconstitutional federal activities will not be tolerated where its members have jurisdiction, and such activities will be treated as criminal acts.
Florida Tenth Amendment Center state coordinator Andrew Nappi considered this a major step forward.
“This is a substantial attempt to push back against federal actions violating the Second Amendment. Representative Eagle has set an example for others who say they support the Second Amendment, but stop short of taking action.” said Nappi. “But as the CSPOA resolution makes clear, the time for inaction is over.”