Tuesday, March 25, 2014

ID:Governor Otter Signs Federal Firearms Nullification Act

The bill, S1332, was passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate, and was signed by Idaho Governor Otter on 21 March, 2014.   While not directly nullifying Federal law, it has much the same effect by forbidding State officers from enforcing certain Federal laws.

The law makes it illegal for state and local officers to order confiscations of firearms required by future federal law.

 The law would effect a future federal ban on the possession of standard capacity magazines, for example.   State officials would be prohibited from ordering confiscation of such magazines.

The Tenth Amendment Center applauds the new law, noting that it rests on the long established anti-commandeering doctrine which holds that the Federal government cannot force the states to enforce federal laws.  This doctrine has been upheld and enhanced by Supreme court decisions in 1997 and 2012.  From the 2012 decision in Independent Business v. Sebelius, and the Tenth Amendment Center, Justice Robert Kennedy argues:
The legitimacy of Congress’s exercise of the spending power “thus rests on whether the State voluntarily and knowingly accepts the terms of the ‘contract.’ ” Pennhurst, supra, at 17. Respecting this limitation is critical to ensuring that Spending Clause legislation does not undermine the status of the States as independent sovereigns in our federal system. That system “rests on what might at first seem a counterintuitive insight, that ‘freedom is enhanced by the creation of two governments, not one.’ ” Bond, 564 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 8) (quoting Alden v. Maine, 527 U. S. 706, 758 (1999) ). For this reason, “the Constitution has never been understood to confer upon Congress the ability to require the States to govern according to Congress’ instructions.” New York, supra, at 162. Otherwise the two-government system established by the Framers would give way to a system that vests power in one central government, and individual liberty would suffer.

While the law is limited to future federal actions, and has some serious exceptions, such as drug and gang enforcement activities, and court orders, it is a step away from the concentration of power in Federal hands that has been ongoing for the last hundred years.   Here are the exceptions in the law:
The Legislature does not intend to affect an Idaho law enforcement officer who assists federal agents on drug or gang enforcement activities.
Other than compliance with an order of the court,
 The law went into effect immediately upon Governor Otter's signature.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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Anonymous said...

They need to be careful with the "gang enforcement activities" caveat. It could potentially be used in the same manner that Game Wardens are used in Texas (albeit, effectively). I have heard of cases where wildlife Game Wardens are "brought along for the ride" when doing busts for non-game related engagements, on the "premise" that there is "suspected" game infractions. Whereas Game Wardens have the right to search, without a warrant, for any wildlife infractions (with the added ability to enforce all state laws). Personally, I've seen nothing but just use of Game Warden authority in Texas but there is always an opportunity. Fortunately, I've never come across anything less than a sound, fully competent, and morally straight Texas Game Warden.

Dean Weingarten said...

I was a game warden in Wisconsin for a short while, and I came across several that would not fit your description.

A few years later, the warden force underwent a significant overhaul.

I was long gone from it.