(WASHINGTON) — No sooner had President Obama laid out his gun control proposals on Wednesday than some states responded, saying they would move to block the laws’ enforcement.
Some state legislators were even working feverishly to block the measures before the president proposed them.
After the president’s announcement, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant joined House Speaker Phil Gunn at a press conference at the State Capitol in Jackson to denounce the president’s gun control measures and call on the legislature to make it illegal to enforce any of the new federal gun control measures.
“We are here to assure Mississippians that we are going to continue to fight for their Second Amendment rights to bear arms,” Gunn said. “These are dangerous times, and people have a constitutional right to protect themselves and their property.”
Bryant also tweeted out a letter he wrote to Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, saying that the president’s Executive Order “infringes our constitutional right to keep and bear arms as never before in American history.”
“I am asking that you immediately pass legislation that would make any unconstitutional order by the President illegal to enforce in Mississippi by state or local law enforcement,” Bryant wrote in the letter, adding that other states have “introduced similar measures and I believe we will be successful in preventing this overreaching and anti-constitutional violation of our rights as American citizens.”
On Monday, Texas State Rep. Steve Toth, who represents an area near Houston, announced he would file legislation “assisting the protection of the Second Amendment.”
Named the “Firearms Protection Act,” the bill would make “any federal law banning semi-automatic firearms or limiting the size of gun magazines unenforceable within the state’s boundaries” and, most notably, “anyone trying to enforce a federal gun ban could face felony charges under the proposal.”
“We can no longer depend on the Federal Government and this Administration to uphold a Constitution that they no longer believe in,” Toth said in a release. “The liberties of the People of Texas and the sovereignty of our State are too important to just let the Federal Government take them away.”
On Wednesday in Missouri, State Sen. Brian Munzlinger, who represents Williamstown, filed legislation he says will seek “to keep far-reaching regulations from violating the constitutional rights of all Missourians.”
“Today’s extreme grab of power was created under executive order and not heard publicly,” Munzlinger said in a statement. “We cannot let the total disregard of our constitutional rights continue.”
His proposal would make the president’s Executive Order or any federal law banning semi-automatic weapons not already on the books “unenforceable” and the bill notably, like in Texas, would “make it a crime for any officer, government agent, or employee from enforcing a law or order declared unenforceable,” effectively making it a crime for the feds to enforce the bill in the state.
Another Missouri state legislator, Rep. Casey Guernsey, introduced a similar bill that “specifies that it is unlawful for any officer or employee of the state or any political subdivision, or any licensed federal firearms dealer to enforce, or attempt to enforce, any federal law relating to a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that is owned or manufactured in this state and remains exclusively within the boundaries of the state,” according to Guernsey’s legislative aide Ryan Clearwater.
Lawmakers in Tennessee laid out similar legislation. State Rep. Jeremy Faison and Sen. Frank Nicely proposed a bill that would make it illegal for any “public funds” of the state to be allocated to the “implementation, regulation or enforcement of any federal law, executive order, rule or regulation” that is passed and “adversely affects a United States citizen’s ability to lawfully possess or carry firearms in this state.”
Faison also put out a statement saying while he “appreciates” some of the president’s plans like “additional school resource officers, training for schools, churches, and higher education,” as well as “being tougher on gun crimes,” he disagrees with aspects of the proposal such as the “vague” term “military assault weapons” and private sales needing background checks.
“Ten years of an assault weapons ban did nothing to stop shooting crimes. How will it work now?” Faison asked in a statement.
In Wyoming, state Rep. Kendell Kroeker was joined by several other state legislators in proposing a bill that reads “any federal law which attempts to ban a semi-automatic firearm or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm or other limitation on firearms in this state shall be unenforceable in Wyoming.”
Like other states, the bill would make it a felony for a federal employee to enforce federal legislation on a firearm or ammunition “owned or manufactured commercially or privately in Wyoming” that remains in the state.
And it’s not just state legislators. A sheriff in Oregon, Tim Mueller of Linn County, wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden on Monday, which he posted on his Facebook page, telling Biden, “We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals no matter how heinous the crimes to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws.”
“Any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any constitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders of Linn County Oregon,” Mueller wrote in the letter.
Another sheriff in Kentucky, Denny Peyman of Jackson County, told The Lexington Herald-Leader that he too would not enforce any laws he considers unconstitutional, saying he has “a team of attorneys to step up with me if necessary to be sure the Second Amendment is upheld,” adding that he considers it “a moral obligation.”
Even before the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 first graders and six educators dead, eight states had adopted similar laws that would exempt guns made in those states from federal regulations as long as the firearms remain in those states.
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