By CHARLIE BOOTH
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A proposed House bill that would protect West Virginia residents’ firearm rights against any future infringement on the local or federal level most likely has little chance to advance, according to a Mercer County legislator.
House Bill 2311, introduced by Del. Michael Folk (R-Martinsburg), would make “all future federal and local statutes, ordinances, laws, orders and rules concerning firearms, firearm accessories, ammunition and their accouterments invalid and unenforceable” in the state.
They will “not be recognized by this state and not be given any recognition within the state as they are against public policy. Those federal and local statutes, ordinances, laws, orders and rules are null and void and of no effect within this state,” the bill says.
The bill has been introduced in prior years and referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which is what happened this year.
Del. John Shott (R-Bluefield) is chair of that committee and said the bill “is not one that has gotten high priority.”
The problem, he said, is that it’s a “nullification bill,” which is an effort by the state to nullify federal law.
Not only would the bill nullify future federal, as well local, laws that may infringe on gun rights of state residents, it even specifies it would be a felony to try to enforce them by charging a resident under those new laws. The penalties, if convicted, would be up to two years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.
If any state resident is charged with violating a new federal or local firearms law, the bill also directs the state’s attorney general to serve as the defense.
Shott said there has in recent years been “some sympathy” toward the idea of giving states the right to react to what is perceived as overreaching federal laws.
But the Supremacy Clause in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says federal law is the “supreme law of the land,” basically giving the federal government the right to preempt state laws.
Shott said attempts by states to challenge the Supremacy Clause have not been successful.
“We have other things we need to be working on,” he said, adding that this bill is “not likely” to be pursued and it would not be an appropriate use of time to do so.
Folk could not be reached for comment on the bill.
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