Politicians are Unanimous When it Comes to Pandering

Joe Huffman notes that the Idaho bill to nullify any future federal gun laws passed unanimously, while the bill to institute campus carry was far from so:

The reality is the law has no practical meaning. It has political meaning. It means that legislators that are, for all practical purposes, anti-gun can use it as defense against opponents who confront them on their anti-gun votes. “Look what I voted FOR! You can’t get any more pro-gun that this!”

RTWT. I think he’s exactly right. It’s all for show. Gun owners have to start understanding the difference between an easy, pandering vote and a difficult vote. Passing campus carry is difficult, because competing interests line up on both sides, and given two arguing factions on opposite sides, many politicians will favor the status quo. Passing something like that requires some politicians to go out on a limb with you and make a hard vote. Politicians will always be willing to pander to a powerful constituency with platitudes and symbolism, it’s up to us if we let them get away with it.

7 thoughts on “Politicians are Unanimous When it Comes to Pandering”

  1. Agreed. I’ll start caring about these types of bills when they include provisions to a) provide legal defense of citizens against federal charges brought by the federal government, b) immunity from state charges for citizens who use force against federal law enforcement officers during a federal action such as a raid regarding the items in question, and -most importantly- c) authorize and instruct the state police and guard to stop federal authorities from enforcing nullified laws up to and including the use of deadly force. Until then this is just theater.

  2. I agree partially but not entirely. Calling bills like this one “nullification” laws tends to confuse the issues. Idaho’s bill relies on the Tenth Amendment anti-commandeering doctrine that the Supreme Court recognized in Printz v. United States.

    A “nullification” bill like the state Firearms Freedoms Acts can fairly be described as purely for show — under current interpretations of the Interstate Commerce Clause and the Supremacy Clause, federal courts are just going to shoot those bills down as happened in Montana. But the Printz principle has actual legal legs. SCOTUS said the feds couldn’t force state LEOs to participate in enforcing a federal gun control program.

    Idaho is just taking that idea and running with it. “For the record, we order our LEOs to decline to participate in enforcing any additional federal gun control statutes. We withhold our consent to help in the enforcement these laws to the full extent that the Tenth Amendment anti-commandeering principle allows us to do so.”

    That’s not “nullification”; no one disputes that the feds can still try to enforce future gun laws in Idaho. But they will have to do it with their own personnel and without help or intel from in-state LEOs.

    Even if you think the Firearms Freedoms Acts are “pandering,” I don’t think that’s a fair description here. Idaho’s bill could actually cut some legal and practical ice in the future. I think it’s a principle worth affirming.

  3. And it’s a way of saying “Idaho thinks current federal gun control laws are mostly consistent with the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, but we also think the feds have filled in most of the available boxes — you can’t push federal gun control further without infringing the right. So we are not going to help you enforce laws that go any further.”

    Why is that pointless? Why scoff here?

  4. Can someone tell me why nullification of marijuana laws works while nullification of firearms laws doesn’t work. And nullification of immigration laws only works in one direction.

  5. Richard

    No one has passed a bill nullifying federal drug laws. They are only limited to state laws. And of course, a state can decide not to assist ATF or others, but they can’t legislatively nullify a federal law. Also, if they do prevent the police from assisting, they likely will lose a significant share of the states overall police funding (which comes via federal grants and through agreement to work with the Feds).

    1. Didn’t MO pass a “future federal gun law” nullification bill a few months ago? I would submit States can (and sometimes should) pass nullification laws (so did Madison, Jefferson, and Calhoun); they’d just better be prepared to defend those nullifications on the field of battle (as South Carolina was in 1832). With Crimea successfully seceding from Ukraine in spite of Obama’s “threats,” I’m not sure how things would go down if Missouri, Idaho, and Montana all collaborated to defend their citizen’s from federal violations of their 2A rights. One can dream.
      – Arnie

    2. If the Feds back down, as Obama (if not the DEA bureaucracy) seem to have done, then Federal law has been effectively nullified. And if local officials go beyond non-cooperation to outright sabotage, has happened in some cases, same result. And losing financial support for the militarization of the police probably seems more like a feature than a bug to both drug and gun nullifiers. Right now the Feds support drug and immigration nullification and oppose gun and Obamacare nullification. One can imagine the opposite result with a different administration.

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