A coalition of Democratic and Republican state Senators in Kentucky has passed a bill that would nullify any future federal laws that ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines such as those used to commit massacres in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado.
Eleven Democrats joined 23 Republicans to push the measure through the state’s upper chamber by a vote of 34-3. Democrats accounted for all three opposition votes. The Bowling Green Daily News reports that the bill nullifies “federal bans on gun ownership and registration,” “specifically mentions semiautomatic firearms and their magazines,” and “applies to federal laws as well as federal rules, regulations and orders.”
Republican state Senator Jared Carpenter says the bill, which he sponsored is constitutional and that the Supremacy Clause doesn’t apply to his bill. He also believes the bill isn’t just a symbolic rejection of federal law.
“If I thought the bill would be symbolic, I would’ve written a resolution,” Carpenter said. “I thought it needed more than that.”
But Democratic state Senator Kathy Stein voiced her opposition to the bill, telling her colleagues that the legislation is useless and does nothing more than give in to paranoid people who believe the government is going to literally go house to house taking guns away. “This piece of legislation is meaningless,” Stein declared before voting against the measure. She then pleaded for sanity to prevail. “Can we please rise above the temptation to pander to those who believe that something is happening in this nation that is not happening. No one is coming to get your guns in this state.”
The Supremacy Clause clearly states that federal laws are superior to state laws. While states can and often do pass symbolic resolutions in opposition to a federal law, they cannot nullify them. If that were the case, conservative controlled states would be passing a multitude of laws against federal labor laws, environmental laws, voting rights laws, civil rights laws, and any other law the GOP despises. It would be chaos. The only way a state can legally challenge federal law is through the judicial system. But lately, it seems Republicans are too cowardly to wait and see what the courts would rule on any future federal gun laws, laws which haven’t even been passed yet. 20 states across the country, including Texas, Wyoming, Missouri, Utah, Tennessee and Alaska are making every effort to put laws in place banning enforcement of any new gun laws. Some of these bills mandate the arrest of police officers who attempt to enforce federal law and some even go so far as to criminalize the introduction of new gun laws by duly elected lawmakers.
These bills are futile and desperate attempts by conservative lawmakers to stop federal laws designed to help prevent the kind of deadly massacres that have made Americans fear for their safety and the safety of their children. Rather than creating sensible gun laws of their own such as universal background checks for all gun purchases, Republicans in these states would rather pass laws banning any new gun laws. The issue of rising gun violence demands swift action to secure the safety of Americans, Americans who have every right to be safe from gunfire. Instead of passing meaningless bills designed to crow about state’s rights and please the NRA, Republicans should pass bills that actually do something to secure the safety of Americans and their children and prevents them from becoming victims of senseless gun violence that has become so prevalent in our society.