LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Feb. 5, 2021) – A bill in the Arkansas House would take on any and all future federal gun control. Passage into law would represent the first step toward ending enforcement of some federal acts that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms within the state.
Rep. Justin Gonzalez (R-Okolona) along with eight Republican cosponsors introduced House Bill 1386 (HB1386) on Feb. 2. The legislation would prohibit a state agency or any public official of the state from knowingly enforcing or attempting to enforce, “any act, law, statute, rule, or regulation of the United States Government created or effective on or after January 1, 2021, and relating to a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that is owned or manufactured commercially or privately in Arkansas so long as that firearm, accessory, or ammunition is within the borders of Arkansas. ” HB1386 would also bar a state actor, local government, or political subdivision of the state from utilizing any resources to enforce such acts.
Any person violating the proposed law could face Class A Misdemeanor charges.
HB1386 would not address all of the unconstitutional federal gun control already on the books and being enforced in Arkansas, but it would take the first step toward protecting the right to keep and bear arms by prohibiting any future acts that could come down the pike.
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 many federal actions in effect. 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 acts to their much-needed end.”
The state of Arkansas 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”
HB1386 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee where it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
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