State, local politicians attempt to preempt federal gun laws

They say the best defense is a good offense.

As the president and some congressional Democrats urge federal action on gun violence, lawmakers in at least five states have introduced legislation to preemptively outlaw any federal bans on high-capacity magazines or certain semi-automatic rifles. Some of the proposed laws even go a step further, making it a state crime for any government official to enforce these hypothetical federal gun laws.

Bills introduced in Texas, Wyoming, Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri over the past month would declare void any federal laws banning high-capacity magazines or certain weapons. The Texas bill, for instance, introduced by Rep. John Otto of Dayton, says any federal attempts to tax, limit the magazine size of, or ban any weapon "infringes upon Texans' right to bear arms" and is thus "invalid" in the state. Any government employee who enforces such laws is committing a misdemeanor crime, the bill says.

These state laws would most likely be unenforceable, as federal gun control laws would preempt state laws. It would be up to the courts to decide whether gun control bills infringed on constitutional rights.

Proposals to ban certain types of semi-automatic weapons, limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, and close loopholes that allow some gun buyers to evade criminal background checks are floating around Congress, but it's unclear if any will pass. President Barack Obama urged politicians in his State of the Union address to vote on the measures, saying victims of gun violence "deserve a vote."

At least one state lawmaker is hoping to shut down debate over gun control laws altogether. Missouri State Rep. Mike Leara introduced a bill to make it a criminal act (Class D felony) for any state lawmaker to introduce gun control legislation. Rep. Stacey Newman, a Democrat who has sponsored legislation to expand background checks, wrote on Twitter about the bill: “Counting on you all visiting me in prison re my background ck bill.”

The anti-gun control laws are trickling down to cities and counties, too. In League City, Texas, near Houston, the City Council approved a resolution by a vote of 7 to 1 that says the city will not enforce any laws passed by the federal government that ban high-capacity magazines or certain types of semi-automatic weapons.

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