LANSING, Mich. (Aug. 1, 2022) – A bill introduced in the Michigan House would ban state and local enforcement of federal gun control, past present and future. Passage into law would take a step toward stopping federal acts that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms within the state.

Rep. Steve Carra (R) introduced House Bill 6338 (HB6338) on July 20. The legislation would prohibit any person or governmental entity from enforcing or attempting to enforce any federal law, rule, regulation, executive order, or administrative order that does any of the following:

  • Imposes a tax, levy, fee, or stamp on firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition not common to all other goods and services and that might reasonably be expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens.
  • Requires the registration or tracking of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition.
  • Requires the registration or tracking of the owners of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition.
  • Prohibits the possession, ownership, use, or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition by law-abiding citizens.
  • Orders the confiscation of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition from law-abiding citizens.

HB6338 is similar to a law passed in Missouri last year that is having a practical effect.

In practice, the bill would ban state enforcement of President Trump’s bump stock ban, along with 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 confront infringements on the right to keep and bear arms in the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, and other subsequent federal acts.

Any entity violating the law would be subject to the greater of actual damages or $50,000.

The bill does contain exceptions to allow state and local police to work with federal authorities on the investigation of felony crimes if the prosecution includes weapons violations substantially similar to those found in state law. They could also work with the feds in pursuit of suspects “when there is a demonstrable criminal nexus with another state or country and the suspect is not a citizen of this state or is not lawfully present in this state.”

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 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.”

LEGAL BASIS

The state of Michigan 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.

WHAT’S NEXT

HB6338 was referred to the House Committee On Military, Veterans And Homeland Security where it must get a hearing and pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.

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