Pa. state lawmaker unveils bill making federal gun control laws unenforceable in the commonwealth
A lawmaker from Southwestern Pennsylvania has joined a growing number of legislators from across the country aiming to put legislation on the books that would make any potential future federal gun control laws unenforceable within a state’s borders. State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a conservative Republican from Butler County, announced on Jan. 23 that he would soon be unveiling House Bill 357, (a reference to the .357 magnum firearm), which would prohibit enforcement of any new federal registration, restriction or prohibition requirement for privately owned firearms, magazines and ammunition within the commonwealth. The bill, modeled after legislation introduced in Texas and Wyoming, and titled the “Right to Bear Arms Protection Act,” would also require the commonwealth, including the Attorney General’s Office, to intercede on behalf of Pennsylvania citizens against any federal attempt to register, restrict or ban the purchase or ownership of firearms and gun accessories that are currently legal products. The law would mean that anyone, including federal agents, who attempt to enforce any type of gun control restriction within the commonwealth’s borders would be subject to arrest and felony charges. “Passage of my legislation will send the message that there will never be additional gun control, anywhere in Pennsylvania,” Metcalfe said in a statement issued by his office. “Whether by White House executive orders, congressional fiat, or judicial activism, we will never allow the left to benefit from the wicked acts of murderers in order [to] advance their senseless gun-grabbing agenda which would only succeed in replacing one of our most sacred personal liberties with the chains of government tyranny. “The right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned,” Metcalfe continued, quoting Article 1, Section 21 of the commonwealth’s constitution. The lawmaker said the state constitution makes it “crystal clear that no level of government, especially the federal government, has any authority whatsoever to impose senseless restrictions on law-abiding firearms owners, or worse, the confiscation of legally owned firearms.” Metcalfe said the purpose of his bill is to force “any gun-grabbing federal official to count the costs of unconstitutionally disarming or denying Pennsylvania citizens their God-given right to keep and bear arms.” Laws such as these are sure to create a legal showdown between state governments and the feds. If challenged in court, the Obama Administration would likely argue that under the U.S. Supremacy Clause, which says federal law trumps state law, measures such as these would be null and void. Those on the other side have argued that states have the right to disregard federal laws that fly in the face of the constitution. A handful of states have also passed their respective versions of something called the Firearms Freedom Act, which was originally passed in the state of Montana, and declares that any firearm made and retained in-state are beyond the authority of Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states. According to FirearmsFreedomAct.com, a version of the law has also been passed in Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, Alaska and Tennessee, with many other states across the country considering passage of the act, including Pennsylvania. The FFA, the website states, is primarily a Tenth Amendment challenge to the powers of Congress under the “Commerce Clause” with firearms as the object. The Tenth Amendment Center, an advocacy organization, says on its website that in many ways, today’s federal government has suspended the legislative power of state assemblies by assuming control over powers not delegated to it by the United States Constitution. The amendment, the center states, was intended to confirm the understanding that at the time the U.S. Constitution was adopted, powers not granted to the federal government were reserved to the states or to the people.