With President Joe Biden issuing a flurry of executive actions last week to strengthen federal gun laws, state representatives across the country are working in the opposite direction, taking a page from the playbook of immigration activists by advancing legislation that would make their enforcement illegal. On April 6, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed the first gun control nullification bill into law.
"Nullifying unconstitutional, federal laws is both legal and it's also the right thing to do," says Anthony Sabatini, a Republican lawmaker and member of the Florida House of Representatives. "It's silly to sit around and wait for something you know is unconstitutional," he tells Reason. "It's time to stand up and fight back. And the methods that we need to use are the ones already being used by the left."
In 1987, Oregon passed a law prohibiting state and local law enforcement from using public resources to arrest or detain people whose only crime was being in the country illegally. Since then, hundreds of other jurisdictions have passed similar laws, becoming so-called sanctuary cities.
Conservative activists are employing the same strategy. While Arizona is the only state where such a bill has become law, elected officials have introduced similar bills in more than a dozen statehouses. Montana's legislature has approved a bill that is now awaiting signature or veto from the governor; the Arkansas Senate and the Missouri, South Carolina, and West Virginia houses have each passed such bills; committees in Texas, Alabama, and New Hampshire have bills that are moving forward in their state legislatures; and similar bills have been introduced in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, Nebraska, Iowa, and Louisiana.
"We know this stuff has been working and the right can continue to complain about the things that the left is successful at, or they can look at it, learn from it, and replicate it," Michael Boldin, the founder and executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, tells Reason.