An activist in Oregon has taken the first step toward placing an initiative on the ballot that would end local enforcement of most state and federal gun control laws in the county.
On Aug 14, Rob Taylor submitted a notice of prospective petition, formally beginning the process of placing an initiative on the ballot in Coos County, Oregon. If he can collect enough signatures, voters will have the opportunity to approve an ordinance that would prohibit county enforcement of “any Extraterritorial Act, as defined herein regarding personal firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition.”
The proposed ordinance declares, “All local, state and federal acts, laws, orders, rules, or regulations, which restrict or affect an individual person’s, or The Peoples’, general right to keep and bear arms, including firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition shall be foreign laws and defined as Extraterritorial Acts, and are invalid in this county.”
It goes on to define specific actions that would fall within this definition, including taxes imposed on firearms, registration and tracking of firearms, background checks for the purchase of firearms, gun bans, gun confiscation and restrictions on the ownership of machine guns.
If passed into law, the ordinance would set the foundation to nullify in practice most federal and state firearms laws within the county.
Under the proposed ordinance, any agent, department, employee or official of Coos County would be prohibited from enforcing such laws – whether state or federal. It also includes civil fines of up to $4,000 for anybody found to be in violation of the law. Not only would county agents be subject to a civil proceeding if accused of violating the ordinance, state and federal agents would be as well.
Taylor said he wants to see this ordinance introduced and passed in every Oregon County.
Every time that I file an initiative, there are these feelings of excitement and anticipation, a readiness, an eagerness to begin the campaign. It is so empowering to live in a country where the founders had such foresight to create a process that any individual can use to redress their grievances against the government machine,” he said. “Politics can be a prelude to war or a solution to an overwhelming conflict. The initiative process is a check on unfettered authority and another way to defeat those who would take away individual rights without the people resorting to real weaponry on real battlefields. However, we will wield these initiative petitions like weapons against the state and federal governments that are intent on taking away our right to bear arms. They will receive no cooperation. The Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance will be our hammer to pound against opponents and a shield to protect supporters until we have created a sanctuary for all law-abiding gun owners in every county of Oregon.
The Josephine County Board of Commissioners recently approved a similar but less sweeping ordinance last month.
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The federal government relies heavily on state cooperation to implement and enforce almost all of its laws, regulations and acts – including gun control. By simply withdrawing this necessary cooperation, states and localities can nullify in effect many federal actions. As noted by the National Governor’s Association during the partial government shutdown of 2013, “states are partners with the federal government on most federal programs.”
Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” represents an extremely effective method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership from state and local governments.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.
“Partnerships don’t work too well when half the team quits,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “By withdrawing all resources and participation in federal gun control, states and even local governments can help bring these unconstitutional act to their much-needed end.”
Some gun rights supporters argue that such a measure is “unnecessary” because it addresses a nonexistent problem with a Republican Congress and an NRA-backed president. In fact, the Trump administration actually ramped up enforcement of federal gun laws in 2017.
The Coos County Firearms Ordinance rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program. The anti-commandeering doctrine is based primarily on five Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. Printz v. U.S. serves as the cornerstone.
We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.
Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, where this article first appeared. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at MichaelMaharrey.com and like him on Facebook HERE