Georgia Representative Tom Kirby and five cosponsors have introduced a bill to block the implementation of federal gun-control measures within the state.
House Bill 732 (HB732) prohibits all state public servants and gun dealers from enforcing federal gun laws.
No public servant or dealer selling any firearm in this state shall enforce or attempt to enforce any federal act, law, statute, rule, or regulation relating to a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that is sold, owned, or manufactured commercially or privately in Georgia and that remains exclusively within the borders of this state.
Based on a principle with over 170 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence, HB732 stands on strong legal grounds.
Under the anti-commandeering doctrine, the federal government holds no power to require a state to help carry out federal acts or regulatory programs. As Georgetown Law Professor Randy Barnett recently told National Journal, “State governments are free to refrain from cooperating with federal authorities if they so choose.”
The Supreme Court has upheld this doctrine repeatedly from 1842 to 2012. “There is absolutely no serious discussion opposing anti-commandeering,” said Mike Maharrey, national communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center. “On top of it, this is just what James Madison advised the people and states to do if they wanted to thwart federal acts.”
Writing in Federalist no. 46, Madison advised a series of actions which he said would be an effective way to stop both unconstitutional and constitutional federal acts. He referred to them as either “warrantable” or “unpopular.”
These actions included using state “legislative devices” and a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union.”
“The federal government simply does not have the manpower or resources to enforce the countless laws they have on the books,” said Maharrey. “All one needs for proof is the miserable failure that the Obama administration has experienced while trying harder than any president in history to stop states rights on marijuana. After a while, they had to throw in the towel.”
In 2013, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano weighed in on the subject as well, suggesting that a state refusing to enforce federal gun laws would make them “nearly impossible to enforce.”
The bill also states that, “The Attorney General may defend a citizen of this state in a federal prosecution for violation of a federal law relating to the manufacture, sale, transfer, or possession of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition owned or manufactured and retained exclusively within the borders of this state.”
After passing its first reading on January 15th HB732 was referred to the Georgia House Judiciary Committee, where it will need to pass by majority vote before going to the House floor for further consideration. Language in the bill banning private businesses from participating in the enforcement of federal acts may have a difficult time passing through this committee, as years of court precedent hold that a state does not have the legal power to ban individuals or businesses from participating in the enforcement of federal acts. But, a willingness by the sponsor to amend and strike out the five words, “or dealer selling any firearm” will give the bill a chance, while retaining its greatest impact – banning the state from enforcement of federal gun control measures.
In Georgia: Take steps to support HB732 HERE.
Other States: Contact your state legislators today – urge them to introduce similar legislation. Model bills and contact info HERE.