MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Aug. 4, 2021) – Bills prefiled in the Alabama House and Senate for the 2022 legislative session would end state and local enforcement of most federal gun control; past, present and future. Enactment of this legislation 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. James Hanes (R) and Rep. Arnold Mooney (R) filed House Bill 7 (HB7). Sen. Gerald Allen introduced the Senate companion bill (SB2). Titled the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” (SAPA), both bills would broadly ban state and local agents from enforcing federal gun control.
DETAILS OF THE LEGISLATION
SB 2 declares that “any and all federal acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations related to firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition are a direct infringement on the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and therefore are unconstitutional” and bans any “officer, agent, or employee of the State of Alabama or a political subdivision thereof” from enforcing such federal acts.
It also bars the allocation of assets, state funds, or funds allocated by the state to local entities for the enforcement of federal gun control. The bill includes misdemeanor criminal penalties for state agents who violate the law.
Under the proposed law, infringement on the right to keep and bear arms would include the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968. Pres. Trump’s bump-stock ban, proposed federal “red-flag laws,” and any future gun control schemes implemented by the federal government.
The House bill takes a different, more limited approach by including a detailed definition of actions that qualify as “infringement,” including but not limited to:
- taxes and fees on firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition not common to all other goods and services that would have a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;
- registration and tracking schemes applied to firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition that would have a chilling effect;
- any tracking of the owners of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition that would lead to a chilling effect;
- any act forbidding the possession, ownership, or use or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition by law-abiding citizens;
- any act ordering the confiscation of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition from law-abiding citizens.
Under the law, “No public officer or employee of this state shall have any authority to enforce or attempt to enforce any of the infringements on the right to keep and bear arms” listed above.
The legislation includes a provision that would allow anybody who violates the law and knowingly deprives somebody of their right to keep and bear arms as defined by the law to be sued for damages in civil court.
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 Alabama 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.
Both bills will be officially introduced on Jan. 11, 2022. HB7 will be referred to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. It must come up for a vote and pass out with a majority to continue on in the legislative process. SB2 will be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- Now in Effect: Maine Ends Civil Asset Forfeiture, Opts Out of Federal Equitable Sharing Program - October 18, 2021
- Now In Effect: Maryland Limits State Participation in Federal Police Militarization Programs - October 1, 2021
- Now in Effect: Connecticut Law Prohibits “No-Knock” Warrants - October 1, 2021