NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 17, 2016) – After voting to kill a bill last month that would have taken a first step toward withdrawing state resources and personnel from enforcing gun control based on international law or treaties, a House subcommittee reconsidered the bill and passed it by a 3-2 vote yesterday.
Rep. John Windle and Rep. Mark Pody introduced House Bill 2389 (HB2389). The legislation would prohibit law enforcement officers from enforcing provisions of international law and treaties that limit gun rights as specified in Article I, Section 26 of the Tennessee State Constitution. It read, in part:
“On or after July 1, 2016 no personnel or property of this state, or any political subdivision of this state, shall be allocated to the implementation, regulation, or enforcement of any international law or treaty regulating the ownership, use, or possession of firearms, ammunition, or firearm accessories, if the use of personnel or property would result in the violation of another Tennessee statute, Tennessee common law, or the Constitution of Tennessee.”
The House Civil Justice Subcommittee killed HB2389 by a 3-2 vote on 02-24 Rep. Jon. Lundberg (R-Bristol) joined with two Democrats (Rep. Sherry Jones and Rep. Bill Beck) voting against the bill.
It remains unclear why Lundberg partnered with Democrats to kill legislation that would have protected Tennessean’s right to keep and bear arms from unconstitutional infringement. One can only conclude that Jon either doesn’t understand the legal basis of the legislation or he supports international gun control. He did not respond to an email requesting an explanation of his vote.
Grassroots anger about the vote was heavy, according to one insider in Nashville. Yesterday, the subcommittee reconsidered its decision and recommended the bill for passage by an unrecorded voice vote.
HB2389 rest 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 any federal act or program. The anti-commandeering doctrine is based primarily on four Supreme Court 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.”
There was clearly no constitutional or legal issue with HB2389 making Lundberg’s original no vote that much more baffling.
HB2389 had two new Reps add their names as cosponsors today. And on 03-22, the full House Civil Justice Committee is expected to vote on it.