By Tenth Amendment Center Blog
PHOENIX, February 10, 2014 – Today, an Arizona state senate committee approved a bill that would virtually nullify all federal gun acts, laws, orders, rules or regulations. The vote was 6-3.
Along with twelve sponsors and co-sponsors, Arizona State Sen. Kelli Ward introduced the Second Amendment Preservation Act in the Grand Canyon State. SB1294 prohibits the state from enforcing “any federal act, law, order, rule or regulation that relates to a personal firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition within the limits of this state.”
“We’ve sat back and allowed the federal government to trample the Constitution long enough,” Ward said. “We’re going to pass this bill and stop the state of Arizona from helping the feds violate your rights.”
Last year, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano weighed in on the subject as well, suggesting that a single state refusing to enforce federal gun laws would make them “nearly impossible to enforce.”
After initial backing from the Tenth Amendment Center, SB1294 garnered support from the well-respected Arizona Citizens Defense League, along with national organizations such as Gun Owners of America and the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA).
“We are in league with this legislation, and we encourage every state to enact similar laws,” said Sheriff Richard Mack, founder of CSPOA and a lead plaintiff of the 1997 Printz case which provides the legal basis for the bill.
SB1294 rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot “commandeer” or coerce states into implementing or enforcing federal acts or regulations – constitutional or not.
The anti-commandeering doctrine is backed by four major Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. The 1997 case, Printz v. US, serves as the modern cornerstone. In that case, that majority wrote,
“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 one came to testify in opposition to the bill, and Arizona Tenth Amendment Center coordinator Adam Henriksen is hopeful that the National Rifle Association will get behind SB1294 as well.