By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, state Representative Ed Henry (R) from Decatur addressed the Alabama House Public Safety and Homeland Security Subcommittee over his House Bill 220. The Second Amendment Preservation Act would, “prevent infringement on the right to keep and bear arms by the federal government and would nullify all federal acts in violation of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
Rep. Henry said that HB 220 would largely be a stop gap measure until HB 8, which amends the Alabama Constitution, is ratified by a vote of the people of Alabama in November 2014.
Rep. Henry told the subcommittee that the Alabama legislature has a duty to stand up and oppose any act by the federal government which infringes on the Second Amendment rights of Alabama citizens. Henry said that his bill was a “line in the sand.”
Rep. Newton (D) from Greenville asked Henry if everything that the federal government has done in the area of firearms is a violation of the Second Amendment.
Rep. Henry answered that most have been.
Henry said, “The only thing the federal government fears is a well armed militia.” Henry said that the people are the well armed militia and that the people may one day need to stand up to potential oppression. Henry said that many Alabama Sheriffs have vowed to stand up and refuse to enforce federal firearms statutes that they feel infringe on citizens’ second amendment rights. Henry said that his bill would give those sheriff’s some legal protection. Henry said that his bill does not go as far as some proposals in that it does not authorize Alabama law enforcement officers to arrest federal Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms agents, but it does protect the rights of Alabama Law Enforcement Officers to refuse to enforce federal firearms laws believed to be unconstitutional. Henry said that the federal government does not have resources to infringe on Alabama citizens rights if state, county, and local law enforcement officers do not assist the federal government.
Rep. Newton said that he was a gun owner and he did not want the government to take his guns, however Newton said, “I understand what you are trying to do; but I don’t think this is the way to do it.”
Henry said that the federal government appeared to be headed on an inevitable path toward gun confiscation. Henry said, “The federal government has run roughshod over the states” since the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution which authorized the direct election of Senators. Prior to that, the state legislature selected the Senators.
Henry said that nation appeared to be going downhill.”At some point we in Alabama have to stop being sheep and stand up.” Henry asked the members of the Committee if their constituents want them to stand up for their rights. Henry said that the state has an obligation to do everything possible to defend the Second Amendment rights of Alabama citizens. Rep. Henry said that it was his hope that eventually we would get a federal government that was more pro-gun rights.
Representative David Standridge (R)f from Blount Count said, “I support the intent. My constituents are asking me to stand up for their rights as well.” “I think it is important.”
Chairman Allen Farley (R) from McCalla said, “We don’t want to kill it (the bill),” but was concerned about some of the wording in the bill. Chairman Farley and Rep. Newton both wanted to amend the wording so they asked and Henry agreed to tweak the wording of the bill. The committee also wanted to set some state authority to decide when the federal government had infringed upon Second Amendment rights. They were concerned that without having a mechanism to determine that (be it the Governor, the legislature, or the Alabama Attorney General) then any citizen of Alabama could unilaterally declare any federal gun law a constitutional violation. Henry admitted that an earlier version of the bill did have that in it. Rep. Henry agreed to work with the committee on addressing their concerns with the legislation.
As a result the bill was held over to the Committee meeting next week.