SALT LAKE CITY () – With the Democrats in control of the Presidency and Congress, Republican lawmakers, concerned about the possibility of new federal gun legislation, aren’t waiting to act.
Legislation in at least a dozen states seeks to lift new restrictions such as ammunition restrictions or a ban on certain types of weons. Some bills would make it a crime for local police officers to enforce federal gun laws.
This can create confusion for officials who frequently work with federal law enforcement agencies, said Daniel Isom, former head of the St. Louis Police Department who now serves as a senior advisor to Everytown for Gun Safety. Federal law plays a major role in a number of areas, such as keeping guns away from domestic violence criminals.
Enabling local officials to decide which laws to enforce is the last thing the police need at a time when cities like St. Louis are experiencing an increase in violent crime, Isom said.
“This has been an extremely challenging year for the communities and law enforcement agencies, and it seems quite sheltered to put even more mental stress on officials at this point,” he said. Since the coronavirus, gun sales have also set monthly records across the country as the pandemic seized.
Isom is concerned about a measure passed by the State House in Missouri that would allow law enforcement officers who enforce federal gun laws to be sued and face a $ 50,000 fine. It’s not the first time Missouri has considered such a bill, but proponents pointed out that President Joe Biden is taking office to pass it now.
In Utah, Republican Rep. Cory Maloy also referred to the incoming administration after the State House passed its bill containing a similar provision that banned the enforcement of federal gun laws. Many Republican lawmakers see attempts to pass federal firearms restrictions as a threat to the second amendment.
“We really have a need to protect these rights,” he said.
Several states passed similar laws under then-President Barack Obama, despite judges ruling against them in court. Most of the recent federal annulment proposals focus on law enforcement officers in their states who primarily enforce state and non-state law.
While Biden has called for a ban on assault weaponsAny new arms legislation is likely to face an increase given the political situation polarization that has triggered past administrations. Democratic lawmakers from conservative-minded states could also join Republicans to oppose new gun restrictions. Any measures likely to be passed would have widespread support, such as background checks on all arms sales, said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown.
This dynamic has not stopped state lawmakers as they want to take the first step to protect gun rights in their states. Federal nullity laws have been introduced in more than a dozen other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wyoming, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Iowa. In Texas, the governor has called for the state to be a haven for the second amendment.
In Arizona a Senate proposal If the chamber passed on Wednesday, officials could be sued for enforcing federal gun restrictions, which the state sees as violating the second amendment. You could potentially be prosecuted. A bill in the House doesn’t include these penalties, but its sponsor, Republican MP Leo Biasiucci, said it would be a clear rejection of federal restrictions on assault-style weons, high-capacity magazines or other firearms.
“You can do that at the federal level, but it won’t fly in Arizona,” he said.
His proposal was passed by the State House last week over objections from Democrats like Rep. Daniel Hernandez of Tucson, who was present at the 2011 shootout that saw the former US Rep. Gabby Giffords was seriously injured. If the measure were to be legally signed, it would be unconstitutional and result in an expensive legal battle, he said.
Biasiucci compares his plan to an attempt by voters in Arizona to legalize themselves Recreational marijuana although it remains against federal law. Gun control groups see it differently.
“Guns kill people and are used to create a public safety issue, but marijuana doesn’t,” said Allison Anderman, senior counsel at Giffords Law Center for Gun Violence Prevention. “If gun laws are not followed, people are likely to be killed.”
Similar measures by the Republican legislature in Montana have been rejected by the former Democratic governor in recent years. The State House, now working with a Republican governor, passed law last week to prevent state officials from enforcing federal bans on certain firearms, ammunition, or magazines.
In 2009, under Obama’s presidency, lawmakers passed law exempting guns and ammunition made in Montana from federal law. It was eventually knocked down in court, but several states still followed suit with their own nullity measures. In 2013, two Kansas men attempted to use that state’s nullity law to overturn their federal convictions for owning unregistered firearms, but the challenge was denied.
“The main problem there is the supremacy clause,” said Jacob Charles, executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law School. Even so, the bills focused on the local police can’t and can’t pass legal drafting.
“States are not required to enforce federal law,” he said.
Phoenix-based writer Bob Christie contributed to this report.