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Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board Highlights Dangers of Bills to ‘Nullify’ Federal Gun Laws

March 10, 2021

In an editorial this week, the Chicago Sun-Times’ editorial board weighed in on a push in several states to pass bills purporting to nullify federal gun laws.

While portions of such laws would likely be struck down in court, other provisions could still pose serious problems for public safety by preventing state officials from helping to enforce federal laws, and even creating potential criminal and civil penalties for those who do.

As the Sun-Times puts it:

Attempts by states to overturn federal gun laws probably would fail in court because of the Supremacy Clause, which holds that the U.S. Constitution, and federal laws in general, take precedence over state laws and even state constitutions. But what is particularly egregious about the bills now under consideration in state legislatures is the penalties they would impose on police officers and others who comply with the federal laws.

Gun shop owners who run a background check as they ring up a gun sale, for example, could be held civilly or even criminally liable by their states. Police officers who enforce the federal ban on felons carrying guns also could face civil penalties or criminal charges. The laws would have a chilling effect on the enforcement of federal gun laws.In addition to the effects such laws would have on public safety in the states that enact them, they could also affect nearby states — including states with strong gun laws like Illinois, where “60% of guns that turn up at crime scenes are traced to sources outside the state,” the Sun-Times notes. 

As the editorial notes, the timing of these bills could also hardly be worse, as gun violence is trending in the wrong direction nationally. Read the whole editorial here.

To speak with a policy expert or with a volunteer with Moms Demand Action about the dangers of so-called nullification bills, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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