BATON ROUGE, LA. (Feb. 9, 2024) – A bill introduced in the Louisiana House would ban 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. Danny McCormick introduced House Bill 62 (HB62) on Feb. 6. Titled the Second Amendment Preservation Act, the legislation would prohibit the use of state personnel or resources for the enforcement of any federal gun control.
No public office, public officer, employee, or political subdivision of this state shall enforce or attempt to enforce, give or attempt to give material aid to, or participate in the enforcement of any federal acts, executive orders, administrative orders, rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances regarding firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition against any law-abiding citizen.
“Law abiding citizen” is defined in the bill as “any person who is not otherwise precluded under state law from possessing a firearm and shall not be construed to include anyone who is not legally present in the United States or the state of Louisiana”
It also bars public offices and state employees from providing “material aid” for enforcement of the same. Material aid is defined as “any assistance that allows a person to make use of lodging, communications equipment or services, social media accounts, facilities, weapons, personnel, transportation, clothing, or other physical assets. This term shall not include the provision or allowance of the use of medicine or other materials necessary to treat physical injuries or assistance to aid the escape of a serious, present risk of life-threatening injury.”
Notably, HB62 would establish this blanket prohibition on state or local enforcement of federal gun control with no determination of constitutionality necessary. This would include provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, President Trump’s bump-stock ban, two ATF regulations from executive orders issued by Joe Biden, proposed federal “red-flag laws,” and any future gun control schemes implemented by the federal government. In effect, the state of Louisiana would only actively enforce Iowa laws relating to firearms.
Any political subdivision that employs a law enforcement officer who knowingly violates the law would be “liable to the injured party in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress and subject to a civil penalty of $50,000 per occurrence.”
The proposed law would also impose the same civil penalty on any political subdivision or law enforcement agency that knowingly employs a local, state, or federal agent who violated the law.
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 Lousiana 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.
HB62 has been referred to the Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice, where it must get a hearing and pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
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