With New Nullification Effort, Mississippi Challenges Federal Gun Control Measures
Last week, the Mississippi legislature took an important step against federal efforts targeting gun owners and their property.
According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the House Judiciary B committee passed House Bill 782. If this piece of legislation passes the full House, the Senate, and Governor Phil Bryant signs it into law, future executive orders or federal rules pertaining to gun control will be blocked by the state.
HB 782, which was introduced by Rep Mark Formby (R-Picayune), counts with 13 cosponsors. The bill prohibits state agencies, employees, and political subdivisions from participating in the enforcement of a new federal rule or executive order relating to personal firearms, accessories, or even ammunition if the federal rule in question goes against Section 12, Article 3 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890. The state constitution reads, in part, that “The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons.”
With HB 782, legislators hope to bar the use of state assets, funds, or personnel for the enforcement of any rule that would otherwise encroach on the rights of Mississippi residents to self-defense.
According to Elaine Vechorik, the Vice-President of Mississippi for Liberty, this bill is important because the “federal government is out of control, and the states have duty to reestablish the rule of law.”
In a study on the right to keep and bear arms in state constitutions carried out by Dave Kopel, the constitutional scholar stated that restrictions on concealed carry permits “underscored that ‘the right to keep and bear arms’ includes the right to carry non-concealed firearms for personal protection.”
According to Mississippi law, residents do not have to obtain a license to own firearms. Locals are allowed to carry rifles and shotguns without a permit. But handgun owners must have a permit to conceal carry. With the Castle Doctrine enshrined in state legislation, residents are free to carry a weapon confidentially in public.
With the gun ownership rights of Mississippi residents in mind, legislators want to make sure that any executive order or new federal rule that goes against the state’s constitution will be effectively blocked locally.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ M855 ammo ban is an example of a federal order that could be barred from being enacted in the state of Mississippi if HB 782 is signed into law.
For the law to be effective, the Tenth Amendment Center argues, further action may be required. For the legislature to determine whether a future federal action goes against the state constitution, a mechanism will have to be created and added to the state law or amended to the Mississippi constitution.
In Federalist #46, James Madison wrote that a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” is a practical step states may take in order to bring down federal measures that hope to restrict the liberties of the individual. Since federal officials rely on the sources and aid of states to have their rules enforced, refusal to cooperate makes these rules “nearly impossible” to enforce.
HB 782 should be considered by the full House before the Senate has a chance to look at the bill.
Mississippi residents are being asked to contact their legislators to urge them to stand in support of this bill.