The Huffington Post reports Rep. Kendell Kroeker is proposing to make it a felony to enforce a federal ban on assault weapons or high-capacity gun clips. The measure carries penalties of five years in prison and a $50,000 fine. His proposal would apply to any federal gun ban passed ater January 1 of this year.
Underlying this legislation, Kroeker is making a controversial argument about the power of states to nullify federal law. He told HuffPost that Thomas Jefferson helped lead Kentucky and Virginia lawmakers in resisting state enforcement of the Alien and Sedition Acts in the late 18th century.
Jeffrey Fisher, a Stanford University law professor and former Supreme Court clerk, was not persuaded. "It is elementary that a state cannot pass a statute that blocks enforcement of an otherwise enforceable federal law," he said.
Under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, federal laws take precedence over state laws. States can only opt out of federal mandates connected to accepting federal funds, as the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed in declaring the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion program to be voluntary for the states.
Fisher said if Wyoming passed Kroeker's legislation, the federal government could ignore it and enforce any new gun restrictions in the state or the government could take Wyoming to court to overturn the state law.