President Joe Biden has issued a brand spanking new executive order to further restrict the right to keep and bear arms. Since he has not been able to get Congress to pass sweeping gun legislation that would be more in line with his agenda, he has decided to take matters into his own hands. This move appears to be the impetus behind Kentucky legislators’ push to create another Second Amendment sanctuary state, effectively.
Kentucky to Become Second Amendment Sanctuary?
Members of Kentucky’s state Senate have passed a bill that would prohibit local law enforcement agencies from upholding federal bans on firearms. The Hill reported: “Kentucky’s bill passed the state House in a 78-19 vote last month and cleared the state Senate on Wednesday 27-9. Both are Republican-majority chambers. It now heads to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear for his signature.”
If the legislation is signed into law, the Bluegrass state will join 19 others in refusing to adhere to federal mandates restricting gun ownership. In fact, if the White House continues in this vein, it could result in several other states following suit.
Not only would the proposed law stop local governments from enforcing federal restrictions, but it would also prevent them from even assisting federal agencies to this end. The use of public funds to crack down on firearms would also be prohibited. This move comes just after a federal judge in Missouri struck down similar legislation. The court ruled that state law cannot override measures passed at the national level.
On Tuesday, President Biden traveled to Monterey Park, California, where a deranged gunman shot and killed 11 people in January at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio. He announced that he would be signing an executive order ostensibly designed to prevent other such incidents. “Today, I’m announcing another executive order that will accelerate and intensify this work to save lives,” Biden declared.
“It’s just common sense,” the president continued. “Check whether someone is a violent felon, a domestic abuser before they buy a gun.” However, the president’s executive order is rather limited in scope. “It directs the attorney general to make sure gun dealers are complying with existing background check laws. It seeks to improve reporting of guns and ammunition that are lost or stolen while in transit,” The New York Times explains. “It calls for better transparency about gun dealers who are cited for firearms violations. And it directs agencies to work with the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network to improve the quality of investigations into gun crimes.”
Can it Work?
Several other states have already enacted laws that would bar law enforcement from enforcing federal legislation on firearms. In 2021, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill designating the state as a Second Amendment sanctuary. At the time, Ducey said during an interview with KTAR that it “was a proactive law for what is possible to come out of the Biden administration.”
This reflects a broader nationwide movement in which cities and counties in various states have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries. Officials championing these laws took a page from progressive politicians who promoted sanctuary cities to shield illegal immigrants from being arrested and deported by federal agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In a 2021 issue brief, the American Constitution Society’s Rick Su noted that the “rise of Second Amendment sanctuaries in recent years is hardly surprising.” The author characterized the movement as a “direct response to growing interest in gun control regulations at the state level and have proliferated largely among rural conservative counties located in states where Democrats are gaining control.”
Su concluded: “If liberals can challenge federal immigration enforcement through immigration sanctuaries, then why can’t conservatives do the same with respect to gun laws through Second Amendment sanctuaries?”
Detractors of the Second Amendment sanctuary movement argue that these cities and states are violating the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, which mandates that state and local laws are subordinate to federal legislation. The movement seeks to nullify the authority of the national government.
Critics also contend that the movement is inconsistent with officers’ duty to enforce the law despite their personal beliefs. Refusing to abide by these measures could undermine this duty and place officials in difficult positions.
However, those in favor of Second Amendment sanctuaries posit that it is necessary to protect the right to bear arms from a federal government that seeks to violate this right. They suggest that local governments should retain the authority to choose which gun laws their residents should follow instead of adhering to a one-size-fits-all approach from state and federal authorities.
It is also worth noting that federal law enforcement agencies can still enforce executive orders and legislation in areas that have declared themselves sanctuaries. However, they would be on their own in this endeavor as local police departments will be prohibited from assisting them.
Scott Cosenza, Liberty Nation’s legal affairs editor, further explains the Constitutionality of Second Amendment sanctuaries:
“Upon reading the proposed legislation, there is no tension between it and the Supremacy Clause. Kentucky and other states maintain police and regulatory agencies to enforce their laws, not federal law. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate for states to decide whether or not to allow resources to be spent in cooperation with federal authorities, depending on the state’s goals.”
The Biden administration has made no secret of its attitude toward firearms and gun control. Since the president took office, he has promised to champion comprehensive legislation intended to curb gun ownership, claiming it will help to decrease violence. With his decision to take the “phone and pen” route, he has just motivated those who favor gun rights to take action against efforts to further restrict the right to bear arms.
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