BATON ROUGE, La. (May 26, 2022) – On Wednesday, a Louisiana Senate committee passed a bill that would prohibit state and local enforcement of any federal gun control implemented on or after Jan. 1, 2022. Passage into law would take a first step toward stopping federal acts that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms within the state.
Rep. Larry Frieman (R) filed House Bill 43 (HB43) on Feb 3. Titled the “Louisiana Firearm Protection Act,” the legislation would bar state enforcement of federal gun control that infringes on a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 11 of the Constitution of Louisiana.
The bill defines specific acts enacted after Jan. 1, 2022, that would be considered infringements, 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;
- 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.
A law-abiding citizen is defined as ” a person who is not otherwise precluded under state law from possessing a firearm.”
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” if it infringes on the right to keep and bear arms.
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” enacted after Jan 1, 2022 that infringes on the right to keep and bear arms.
The proposed law would create a cause of action to sue any person that violates the law in state court without the possibility of “sovereign, official, or qualified immunity” as an affirmative defense. Any state agency or political subdivision in violation of the law would be subject to losing state grant funds the following year.
The passage of HB43 would have immediate practical effect, banning enforcement of two ATF regulations from executive orders issued by Joe Biden to criminalize “pistol braces” and to require registration of popular “80 percent lowers” — homemade firearms. It would also bar state and local enforcement of any other future gun control schemes implemented by executive order.
On April 20, the House passed HB43 by a 75-25 vote. Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Judiciary B approved the bill with some technical amendments, sending it to the full chamber for further consideration.
A similar bill passed the Louisiana House last year but died in the Senate.
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.
HB43 will move to the full Senate for debate and votes. Should it pass, it would go back to the House to approve or reject the Judiciary B amendments.