The Alabama House could take up a bill this week that would prevent state and local officials from assisting with the enforcement of presidential executive orders aimed at curbing gun violence.
The legislation has drawn criticism from advocate groups fighting to reduce gun violence, which in a recent statement notes that gun violence is the leading cause of death for youth in Alabama.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a New York City-based nonprofit that advocates for gun control and gun safety, in a report that cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote that an average of 1,090 Alabamians die and 3,442 are wounded by guns every year. Alabama has the second-highest rate of gun violence in the U.S., according to the report.
The Alabama Senate on March 31 passed Senate Bill 2, which was introduced by Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, which would create the Second Amendment Preservation Act which would also prevent the use of public funds to enforce presidential gun orders.
“Because of the grave threat to Alabamians’ Second Amendment rights posed by any Biden Administration gun control order, no public resources should be used to administer or enforce any Biden Administration gun control order without the express written consent of the people’s elected representatives in the Alabama Legislature,” the bill reads.
The rate of gun deaths in Alabama increased by 47 percent from 2011 to 2022, according to the Everytown for Gun Safety report, which cites CDC data. Alabama also has the third highest societal cost of gun violence in the U.S., at $,654 per Alabamian each year, totaling $8 billion.
“This law could have a chilling effect on law enforcement working to maintain public safety in their communities, further tying the hands of local authorities amidst Alabama’s ongoing gun violence crisis,” Everytown for Gun Safety said in a statement regarding Alabama’s proposed law.
The nonprofit in the statement also notes that a similar nullification law passed in Missouri resulted in multiple lawsuits. That state’s law prevents state and local law enforcement officers from enforcing federal gun laws.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently filed a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s nullification law, also named the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” according to The Missouri Times.
“This act impedes criminal enforcement operations in Missouri,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, according to The Missouri Times. “The United States will work to ensure that our state and local law enforcement partners are not penalized for doing their jobs to keep our communities safe.”
The DOJ in the lawsuit argues that Missouri’s law violates the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which states that federal law is greater than state law.
Alabama state Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, warned lawmakers before the Senate passed Sen. Allen’s bill that federal laws supersede state laws, and that passing the bill would result in costly legal battles.
“You’re going to spend all these millions of dollars trying to defend this, and we’re going to lose,” Smitherman said.