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AZ bans enforcement of ‘unconstitutional’ federal gun laws

Wall of rifles at a gun store. (Michael Saechang/Flickr)
April 07, 2021

On Tuesday, Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a bill that would preclude the state from enforcing any new gun control laws passed at the federal level that the state deems to be unconstitutional. The Arizona law comes amid President Joe Biden’s calls for Congress to pass new gun control laws.

The legislation, HB2111, short-titled “2nd amendment; unenforceable federal laws,” states “An act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the United States government that violates Amendment II of the Constitution of the United States is null, void, and unenforceable in this state.”

The Arizona bill further states, “This state and all political subdivisions of this stare are prohibited from using any personnel, or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the United States government that violates Amendment II of the Constitution of the United States.”

The Associated Press reported proponents of the Arizona bill say it will ensure that the rights of gun owners are protected from potentially unconstitutional gun control efforts under the Biden administration. Opponents of the bill, meanwhile, say it will undermine the rule of law and that the bill itself is an unconstitutional measure that could cost state taxpayers to defend in court.

Arizona is not the only state to consider such state legislation to preempt potential federal gun control efforts. Missouri state lawmakers have also proposed bills to defy new federal gun control laws. In the past, counties in numerous U.S. states have also declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, in defiance of state-level gun control laws. By January of 2020, 91 of Virginia’s 95 counties, along with 12 cities and 22 towns, declared themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries, as the Virginia state legislature took up a raft of new gun control bills.

Ducey passed the bill as the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has advanced new gun control efforts in recent months. One Democrat-sponsored bill, H.R. 127 would require all gun purchasers to obtain a Department of Justice-issued license to obtain a firearm. Licenses would only be available to adults 21-years-old or older. Firearm owners must also have firearm insurance, which would cost $800 to obtain.

Another Democrat-sponsored bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 8, would expand background check provisions and outlaw private gun transfers between family members and instead require them first obtain permission from the federal government to make a private firearms transfer. Another Democrat-sponsored background check bill would allow the FBI to put a hold on a firearm transfer for up to 30 days, rather than the three days currently allowed by law.

President Joe Biden has also called on Congress to pass an “assault weapons ban.” Biden said Congress should prepare legislation “banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.” Biden did not specify what would be considered an “assault weapon” though similar “assault weapon” laws have attempted to ban popular semi-automatic rifles like AR-15 and AK-style rifles. Biden also did not specify what would be considered a “high-capacity magazine.”

Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland has said the Department of Justice will support Biden’s gun control agenda. Garland said, “The role of the Justice Department is to advance the policy program of the administration as long as it is consistent with the law. Where there is room under the law for the president’s policies to be pursued, I think the president is entitled to pursue them.”

Biden has suggested he will take executive action on gun control and, on Wednesday, Politico reported Biden could unveil a package of executive actions on gun control by Thursday. The gun control package would reportedly include an order to regulate the manufacture of homemade firearms, sometimes referred to as “ghost guns.”

Democrat lawmakers have increased calls for Biden to take executive action on gun control following recent high-profile shootings in Atlanta, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado.