This week, Wyoming lawmakers introduced a bill banning the federal government from enforcing an assault weapons ban or a prohibition on high-capacity magazines in the state, calling the effort an attempt to “take the Second Amendment seriously.”
The bill, which is sponsored by eight Wyoming state representatives and two state senators, calls for federal agents who attempt to enforce those measures to be imprisoned for at least one year and up to five years, and fined a maximum of $5,000.
It also contains broad language prohibiting any “public servant … or dealer selling any firearm in this state” from enforcing “any act, law, statute, rule or regulation of the United States government relating to a personal firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition that is owned or manufactured commercially or privately in Wyoming and that remains exclusively within the borders of Wyoming.”
Specifically, the bill mentions that bans or restrictions on the ownership of semi-automatic firearms and firearm magazines — as well as any requirement for the registration of firearms — are unenforceable in Wyoming.
Vice President Joe Biden is expected to recommend extensive gun-control measures on Tuesday, including universal background checks and the return of an assault weapons ban. (RELATED VIDEO: Biden to recommend federal database of gun-related deaths)
Legal experts agree that the Wyoming bill is illegal under the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which holds that enforceable federal laws trump state laws when they conflict. It would likely be struck down immediately if the federal government decided to challenge the legislation in court, unless Wyoming’s legislature convinced the courts that the federal gun regulations are themselves unconstitutional.
But Republican state Rep. Kendell Kroeker, who introduced the bill, was optimistic, and said the bill sends a message to Washington “that your one size fits all solution doesn’t comport to what a vast majority of the state believes.”
“I take an oath to uphold, support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of Wyoming,” said Kroeker, who previously sponsored legislation to return Wyoming to the gold standard. “I believe it is my duty to take that oath seriously. If the federal government is going to pass laws taking back our rights, it is our right as a state to defend those rights.”
It is unclear whether Republican Gov. Matt Mead would sign the legislation. He is prohibited by state law from publicly threatening to veto legislation.
“I don’t think this is controversial in Wyoming at all,” Kroeker said. “I fully expect this bill to pass.”