28 States to feds: Hands off our guns

Monday, March 18, 2013
By Paul Martin

By Benjamin Goad

A growing number of states are moving forward with legislation to exempt them from new federal gun controls and, in some cases, brand as criminals anyone who tries to enforce them.

While many of the bills are considered symbolic or appear doomed to fail, the legislative explosion reflects a backlash against legislative and regulatory efforts in Washington to tamp down on gun violence.

As of this week, at least 28 states had taken up consideration of gun bills this year, according to new data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than 70 bills have been put forward in all.

The burst of activity comes as the Obama administration and Congress pursue a series of gun control measures in the wake of December’s shooting massacre in Connecticut, which left 20 schoolchildren and six adults dead.

In addition to dozens of bills pending in the House and Senate, the Justice Department and other agencies are moving ahead 23 executive actions announced by President Obama in January.

The state bills vary in content and scope, but most are meant to nullify federal regulations that place new restrictions on gun rights, or other measures viewed as encroaching on the Second Amendment.

A bill approved this month by Utah’s House of Representatives, for example, was designed to assert the state’s rights to enforce its own gun laws, according to its author, GOP Rep. Brian Greene.

“We saw all of this activity in D.C.,” Greene said, referring to the legislative efforts and a series of roundtable meetings held by Obama’s taskforce on gun violence. “It became apparent immediately that state jurisdiction was irrelevant to them.”

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