Here’s a surprise for you; some Governors have absolutely zero understanding of the Constitution. None, whatsoever. Montana Governor Steve Bullock seems to fit that description quite nicely.
Yesterday, he vetoed Montana House Bill 302 (HB302). The bill would require the state to refuse to enforce or assist the enforcement of any federal bans on semiautomatic weapons or large capacity magazines. The bill states, in part:
A peace officer, state employee, or employee of any political subdivision is prohibited from enforcing, assisting in the enforcement of, or otherwise cooperating in the enforcement of a federal ban on semiautomatic weapons or large magazines and is also prohibited from participating in any federal enforcement action implementing a federal ban on semiautomatic weapons or large magazines.
Here’s why Bullock is clueless about the Constitution. In his veto message he wrote that the bill would put “law enforcement in the position of violating laws they have sworn to uphold” and “subject our peace officers to criminal sanctions for upholding the oath we ask that they take.”
Here’s a message for you, Steve. You’re a liar, and we know it.
There is absolutely ZERO serious discussion from anyone beyond a 4th grade education about the fact that the federal government cannot “commandeer” the states to carry out its laws. None.
Even the Supreme Court has affirmed this multiple times.
In the 1992 case, New York v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress couldn’t require states to enact specified waste disposal regulations.
In the 1997 case, Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not command state law enforcement authorities to conduct background checks on prospective handgun purchasers.
In the 2012 case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruled that a significant expansion of Medicaid, was not a valid exercise of Congress’s spending power, as it would coerce states to either accept the expansion or risk losing existing Medicaid funding.
In each of these cases, the Supreme Court made is quite clear that their opinion is that the federal government cannot require the states to act, or even coerce them to act through a threat to lose funding. Their opinion is correct. If the feds pass a law, they can sure try to enforce it if they want. But the states absolutely do NOT have to help them in any way. This is really basic stuff that no one disagrees with, except people like Steve Bullock when their trying to mislead people.
So to say that Montana law enforcement would be “violating laws” or “subject…to criminal sanctions” for not carrying out federal law FOR the feds is a bald faced lie. And Steve Bullock knows it.
The people of Montana should be disgusted.
On the right, those who support the right to keep and bear arms know that no matter what gun laws are ever passed in DC – this year or in the future – Steve Bullock will require the state of Montana to enforce them.
On the left, those who support the medical marijuana program that voters approved years ago, know that Bullock will continue to be an embarrassment to progressives, requiring local law enforcement to continue working with the DEA when they don’t even have to.
Now if Bullock would have skipped this part of the veto message and just focused on the political statement that he also included, that would be more…acceptable. Still wrong-headed and dangerous, but not as bad as his lie that the state needs to carry out and enforce every federal law. He wants your local law enforcement to take all the risk, and to bear all the cost, while the feds sit back and do nothing or take the credit where the local law enforcement carries all the water.
His veto message continues:
Further, HB 302 is unnecessary. To date, there has been no action in Congress to enact a ban on semiautomatic weapons. Moreover, recent news reports have indicated that a majority of Congress does not support such legislation.
That may be the case for 2013, and it’s certainly decent news for the short term. But, anyone thinking that this is over with because it won’t pass in 2013 is mistaken. Anyone saying “there’s nothing to worry about” is a liar. If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe Joe Biden:
“Let me say this as clearly as I can: this is just the beginning,” he said just this week. “We believe that weapons of war have no place on our streets. That’s the message that retired admirals and generals have spoken to us about. The comment one of them used was if you want to learn how to use a semiautomatic weapon, join the United States military. But these are weapons of war.”
The attempts to ban semiautomatic weapons and high capacity magazines are just beginning and making sure that the federal government knows that they’ll get no support enforcing such a ban from the State of Montana, is a good first step in rendering any such ban ineffective.
As Judge Andrew Napolitano has said recently, such widespread noncompliance can make a federal law “nearly impossible to enforce” (video here)
Steve Bullock is a joke, and while we realize that no one is going to vote this bum out of office anytime soon, the People of Montana can certainly pressure their state senators and representatives to override his veto and render worthless his constitutional-idiocy.
For Bullock to say such garbage about Montana being required to enforce federal law, we say “Bollocks!”
Michael Boldin [send him email] is the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. He was raised in Milwaukee, WI, and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on twitter - @michaelboldin, on LinkedIn, and on Facebook.