Arizona Capitol

Arizona Senate Panel Approves Bill Aimed at Nullifying Federal Gun Laws

An Arizona bill aimed at nullifying federal gun laws passed its first test Monday, as it was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The "Arizona Second Amendment Preservation Act," introduced by Republican Senator Kelli Ward, would ban state agencies from enforcing federal gun laws or helping any federal agency enforce federal gun laws.

See also:
-Arizona Republicans Trying, Again, to Nullify Federal Gun Laws

So while the bill wouldn't actually prevent the feds from enforcing these laws, the Tenth Amendment Center -- the organization behind this legislation and similar bills in other states -- believes it would eventually result in the federal laws being nullified.

"We do believe this strategy would ultimately serve to nullify -- our definition: to render null, void or simply unenforceable -- federal firearms laws, especially if multiple states take the same action," Tenth Amendment Center spokesman Michael Maharrey tells us. "We base this belief on the fact that states are in the process of nullifying federal marijuana laws."

Maharrey says the legislation, Senate Bill 1294, relies on 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," he says.

Although the State of Kansas last year enacted similar legislation under a similar name, also supported by the Tenth Amendment Center, Maharrey says they're not the same:

The Arizona bill is not the same as the Kansas bill. While it is implied in the language, the Kansas bill did not explicitly forbid state cooperation with federal enforcement. Without explicit prohibition, you are not going to see much change. That is why we have been encouraging Kansas localities to make the prohibition explicit and have said additional steps are needed in Kansas. Furthermore, the Kansas bill included criminal penalties against federal agents enforcing federal laws on guns made and remaining within the state borders. The Arizona bill has no such provision.
Although Senator Steve Gallardo, a Democrat, asked Senator Ward a couple of questions about the bill, there wasn't any real meaningful discussion of the bill in the committee hearing, as it passed with the panel's six Republican members in favor, and the three Democrats opposed.

After the vote, Gallardo quipped, "We vote on anything in this committee, don't we?"

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley