The legislature in Missouri is posed to enact a statute next month that would nullify federal regulatory power over guns in the state, and make it a crime for federal agents to attempt to enforce any gun-related laws.
It is part of a trend of “nullification” efforts over federal laws, a movement that seeks to severely limit the power of the federal government to act in and regulate the states.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill last month. But the legislature is seeking to override his veto, even though many constitutional experts believe that the courts will ultimately strike down the law should it be enacted. Gov. Nixon said that the federal government’s supremacy “is as logically sound as it is legally established.”
The bill goes beyond some other nullification efforts, such as laws designed to limit federal authority over marijuana regulation, as it actually provides for criminal sanctions for federal agents who attempt to carry out their duties, and forbids state officials from cooperating with federal officials on matters involving gun regulation.
In Pennsylvania, House Bill 357, introduced by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) is an attempt to similarly limit the federal government’s ability to act in Pennsylvania on matters related to firearms. Calling itself the “Right to Bear Arms Protection Act,” the bill, like its Missouri counterpart, would establish as a crime a federal agent’s enforcement or attempted enforcement of federal firearm law within Pennsylvania, in this case, a third degree felony punishable by between one and seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $15,000. The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.
We want our legislators to focus on passing legislation that will make us safer, not on unconstitutional efforts to block federal laws and make it a crime for federal agents to carry out their duties.