A Florida lawmaker submitted a bill Monday that would prohibit state, county and local law enforcement officers from assisting or cooperating with U.S. agents enforcing federal gun laws.
HB 733, proposed by Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, is called the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” but it’s ultimately an exercise of Florida’s 10th Amendment rights, according to a press release from the Florida Tenth Amendment Center.
If the measure passes, any state or local officer providing material support to federal agents investigating or enforcing federal gun laws would be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
“The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution expressly provides that all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states,” Eagle said in the release. “Time and time again, Florida has proven that we have the best solutions to our own issues, whether it be healthcare, education, or our balanced budget, which is accomplished without raising taxes. When it comes to protecting our fundamental Second Amendment rights guaranteed by the Constitution, I believe it is best left to be handled by Floridians for Floridians.”
Florida is taking a different approach than states like Missouri, which is attempting to nullify federal gun laws in its state. Such a scheme sounds good, but it will face a stiff legal challenge if passed. The Florida approach already has case law on its side, according to the Tenth Amendment Center.
The center’s release said:
The legislation would not attempt to stop federal agents from enforcing gun laws, but would pull the plug on any state cooperation. The bill rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce a federal act or program The anti-commandeering doctrine rests primarily on four Supreme Court cases cases dating back to 1842. Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone.
Simple lack of cooperation would be a major impediment to federal law enforcement officers, according to Francisco Rodriguez, the Florida Tenth Amendment Center’s outreach director.
“The federal government relies on state and local assistance for almost everything,” he said in the release. “One source I read indicated that state or local police assist in seven out of every 10 ATF raids. That’s a lot of help that will disappear in the blink of an eye. Now imagine if 20 or 30 states followed suit. It would make it virtually impossible for the feds to violate the Second Amendment.”
The Senate version of the bill is expected to be introduced next week.
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