BATON ROUGE, La. (April 13, 2021) – A bill filed in the Louisiana House would prohibit state and local enforcement of federal gun control; past, present and future. Passage into law would represent a major step toward ending federal acts that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms within the state.
Rep. Larry Frieman (R-Abita Springs) filed House Bill 118 (HB118) on March 15. Titled the “Louisiana Firearm Protection Act,” the legislation would end state enforcement of any federal gun control that isn’t covered by state law.
The proposed law would prohibit the state, its agencies and its political subdivision from “adopting a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the entity explicitly or through consistent overt action enforces a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation enacted that purports to regulate a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition if the statute, order, rule, or regulation imposes a prohibition, restriction, or other regulation that does not exist under the laws of the state of Louisiana.”
It would also prohibit the use of state assets, state funds, or funds allocated by the state to local entities “in whole or in part, to engage in any activity that aids a federal agency, federal agent, or corporation providing services to the federal government in the enforcement of or any investigation pursuant to the enforcement of any federal act, law, order, rule, or regulation regarding a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition if the act, law, order, rule, or regulation does not exist under the laws of this state.”
The proposed law would create a cause of action to sue any entity or person that violates the law in state court. Any state agency or political subdivision in violation of the law would be subject to losing state grant funds the following year.
While passage into law wouldn’t end all gun control in Louisiana immediately, it would represent a massive shift in strategy going forward. Once in effect, HB118 would immediately do the following:
- Ban state and local enforcement of any federal gun control measures on the books that don’t have concurrent measures in law in the state of Louisiana.
- Ban state and local enforcement of any new gun control measures that might come from Washington D.C. in the future that aren’t on the books in Louisiana.
- Shift the focus and attention to any remaining gun control measures on the books in state law.
- Encourage gun rights activists to work in future legislative sessions to repeal those state-level gun control measures as a follow-up.
Each state-level gun control repeal would then represent a one-two punch, not only ending state enforcement, but automatically ending support for any concurrent federal gun control measure as soon as the state law repeal went into effect.
WEST VIRGINIA LAWS
According to NRA-ILA, under Louisiana law, there is no licensing requirement for ownership of rifles, shotguns or handguns.
The ATF has a pdf document that lists and details all state-level gun control measures in Louisiana and would act as a handy guide for what could be repealed in the future.
The right to keep and bear arms in Louisiana is found in Article 1, Section 11.
“The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person.”
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 Louisiana 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”
No determination of constitutionality is necessary to invoke the anti-commandeering doctrine. State and local governments can refuse to enforce federal laws or implement federal programs whether they are constitutional or not.
HB118 will be officially introduced and referred to a committee when the state legislature convenes on April 12. It will need to pass the committee by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
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