OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb 6, 2018) – A bill filed in the Oklahoma Senate would prohibit state cooperation with the enforcement all future federal gun control measures, effectively nullifying them in practice within the state.
Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) prefiled Senate Bill 1215 (SB1215) for introduction in February. Titled the Oklahoma Second Amendment Preservation Act, the legislation would prohibit any state or local agency, along with their employees, from knowingly and willingly participating in any way in the enforcement of any future federal act, law, order, rule or regulation issued regarding a personal firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition. The bill would also ban the use of state assets or money in the enforcement of future federal gun laws.
Any local government found to have assisted in the enforcement of such federal gun laws in violation of the act would lose all of its grant funds the following year. State or local employees would face criminal penalties for knowingly violating the law in their official capacity.
SB1215 would effectively withdraw all state cooperation from the implementation or enforcement of future federal gun laws.
The legislation does not require any determination of constitutionality. It doesn’t attempt to physically interfere with federal enforcement of its own laws, but instead simply directs all state agencies to simply stand down.
As the bill findings assert, “The anti-commandeering principles recognized by the United States Supreme Court in Printz v. United States are predicated upon the advice of James Madison, who in The Federalist No. 46 advised, “a refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union”
The federal government relies heavily on state cooperation to implement and enforce almost all of its laws, regulations and acts – including gun control. By simply withdrawing this necessary cooperation, states can nullify in effect many federal actions. As noted by the National Governor’s Association during the partial government shutdown of 2013, “states are partners with the federal government on most federal programs.”
Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” represents an extremely effective method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership from the states.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.
“Partnerships don’t work too well when half the team quits,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “By withdrawing all resources and participation in federal gun control, states can help bring these unconstitutional act to their much-needed end.”
Some gun rights supporters argue that such a measure is “unnecessary” because it addresses a nonexistent problem with a Republican Congress and an NRA-backed president. This ignores the fact that the current administration won’t remain in power forever. And as we saw in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, Republicans suddenly become open to gun control when the political pressure heats up after a tragedy.
SB1215 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 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.”
SB1215 will be officially introduced on Feb. 5. At that time, it will be referred to a committee where it will need to pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.