Gun control: Ariz. legislators move to exempt state from federal laws

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Gun control. It's the debate that is rippling across the country.

While lawmakers in Washington try to hammer out what should be done, if anything, some Arizona lawmakers are saying "No thanks."

Five state representatives -- Steve Smith (R, District 11), Adam Kwasman (R, District 11), Carl Seel (R, District 20), David W. Stevens (R, District 14), and Bob Thorpe (R, District 6) -- are proposing House Bill 2291, titled "Arizona Firearms: prohibited enforcement."

Last week, President Barack Obama proposed a ban on assault weapons and any magazine that holds more than 10 bullets. Smith, Kwasman, Seel, Stevens and Thorpe are not on board with that.

If passed and signed into law, HB 2291 would make it a Class 6 felony for federal government employees to enforce new federal laws or regulations on guns, accessories and ammunition owned or manufactured in our state.

A Class 6 felony is Arizona's least severe felony classification, but a conviction can carry a jail or prison sentence.

The proposed bill would also make Arizona exempt from any new federal restrictions on semi-automatic firearms and magazines and new registration rules. Under the introduced version of HB 2291, such restrictions or registration rules taking effect after Jan. 1 would be "… unenforceable within the borders of this state …."

It's not yet clear is the bill has any traction in the Legislature, but when asked if HB2291 would stand up in court, a Valley lawyer cited the Supremacy Clause -- Article VI, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution. That section states that the "Constitution, and the Laws of the United States … shall be the supreme Law of the Land."

When you boil it down, the Supremacy Clause means " that federal law is superior to and overrides state law when they conflict," according to Nolo, which describes itself as "a leading provider of plain-English legal information and products for consumers and businesses."

This is not the first time the Supremacy Clause has been cited in connection with an Arizona bill or law. It was at the heart of the legal fight over the state's controversial anti illegal-immigration law, SB 1070.

HB 2291, which sponsors say is meant to protect Arizonans' Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms," is not unique. Nearly a dozen other states reportedly have similar bills on the table.