JACKSON, Miss. (Jan. 29, 2019) –  A bill filed in the Mississippi Senate would build on the foundation of legislation signed into law in 2016 and block state enforcement of Pres. Trump’s bump stock ban, along with certain future federal gun control regulations.

Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) introduced Senate Bill 2638 (SB2638) on Jan. 21. The legislation would bar any state agency, department or political subdivision of the state, along with their employees, from planning, implementing, assisting with, participating in, enabling or cooperating with “any federal law, rule, regulation or order created or effective on or after January 1, 2018, if the law, rule, regulation or order attempts to:

(a)  Ban or restrict ownership of a semiautomatic firearm or any magazine of a firearm;
(b)  Require any firearm, magazine or other firearm accessory to be registered in any manner; or
(c)  Confiscate a firearm, magazine or other firearm accessory from law-abiding Mississippi citizens.

Because the bill is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018, it would prohibit the confiscation of bump stocks under the unconstitutional bump stock ban instituted by Pres. Trump through executive action late last year. As TJ Martinell wrote before the ban was instituted, “Regardless of how effective a bump stock ban might be in preventing mass shootings or reducing casualty count (not very), the feds have no authority delegated to them to enact such a rule. Under the Constitution, this is power simply does not exist.”

 A SECOND STEP

In 2016, Gov. Phil Bryant signed legislation into law that removed conceal carry licensing requirements, allowing Mississippians to carry concealed firearms without a permit. The law also set the foundation to reject and end new federal gun control regulations and executive orders in the state.

No federal executive order, agency order, law not enrolled by the United States Congress and signed by the President of the United States, rule, regulation or administrative interpretation of a law or statute issued, enacted or promulgated after July 1, 2016, that violates the United States Constitution or the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 shall be enforced or ordered to be enforced by any official, agent or employee of this  state or a political subdivision thereof.

The 2016 law set the foundation to end enforcement of unconstitutional federal actions, but it did not specifically define what those actions are. Passage of SB2638 would effectuate the law by defining specific acts the state must refuse to enforce.

EFFECTIVE

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 and localities can nullify in effect many federal actions. As noted by the National Governors’ 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 state and local governments.

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 and even local governments can help bring these unconstitutional act to their much-needed end.”

Some gun rights supporters have argued that such a measure is “unnecessary” because it addresses a nonexistent problem with a Republican Congress and an NRA-backed president. Trump’s bump stock ban obliterates this fallacy. Furthermore, the Trump administration actually ramped up enforcement of federal gun laws in 2017.

LEGAL BASIS

The state of Mississippi can legally bar state agents from enforcing federal gun control. Refusal to cooperate with federal enforcement 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 five Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. Printz v. U.S. 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”

WHAT’S NEXT

SB2638 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee – Division A where it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward int the legislative process.

 


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