Following the the steps of a similar, equally unconstitutional bill that passed the Wyoming House late last month, Alaska House Speaker Mike Chenault (R) introduced a bill that would impose criminal sanctions on federal law enforcement officers who have the audacity to do their job. Under Chenault’s bill, which is cosponsored by nearly half of his fellow state representatives, “[a]n official, agent, or employee of the federal government who enforces or attempts to enforce” a new ban on a semi-automatic weapon or large capacity magazine can be imprisoned for up to 90 days.
Additionally, the bill contains an unconstitutional attempt to nullify most federal gun safety laws within Alaska’s borders:
A personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is possessed in this state or manufactured commercially or privately in this state and that remains in the state is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce as those items have not traveled in interstate commerce.
Needless to say, Alaska does not have the power to do this. The Constitution provides that duly enacted federal laws “shall be the supreme law of the land,” so state laws that claim that they are superior to federal law defy the express language of the Constitution.
Nor, for that matter is there a credible constitutional case against federal laws that regulate contraband possessed entirely within the state of Alaska. As the Supreme Court explained in Gonzales v. Raich, the United State’s power to regulate marijuana nationally includes the power to ban any possession of the drug — even if someone grows and consumes the marijuana locally. The same principle applies to other contraband, such as illegal guns.
Of course, gun laws are presently bound by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller, but that opinion permits a broad range of gun safety laws, such as “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill” and bans on “dangerous and unusual weapons.” As a new Center For American Progress memo explains, Heller should not be an obstacle to any of the gun safety proposals currently under serious consideration in Congress.