Legislators have an important office assisting and advising them in the creation of legislation: The Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel which is made up of a group of constitutional lawyers. Leg Research is required to write whatever legislation a lawmaker wishes to propose, even if they know that the law runs afoul of other laws, such as those listed in the United States Constitution. When this happens, Leg Research writes a Legislative Review Note to alert lawmakers that a bill will, most likely, be found unconstitutional.
Representative Brian Greene (R - Pleasant Grove) has proposed a bill that has garnered such a note. In fact, HB 114 – Second Amendment Preservation Act‘s Legislative Review note is more than 400 words longer than the bill itself.
Why is this? Because the bill states that only Utah can regulate guns in Utah and makes it a third degree felony for any federal officer to enforce federal law in relations to guns in Utah.
At this point, Utah Political Capitol could mention the fact that even a first year law student could tell you that, if this bill were to become law, it would be overturned in a heart beat. We could tell you that this bill is a textbook example of a message bill that is big in the way of rhetoric and small in the way of achieving anything long lasting. We could even tell you that this bill seems to go so far out of its way to appease a small portion of the state that it is almost laughable.
But, we’re not going to do that.
Instead we choose to ask a simple question: Does Representative Greene understand that one of the conditions initially required for Utah to become a state was that we consent to the fact that the federal government’s laws supersede state law? If he does, why is he choosing to waste the time of the state legislature by tying it up with legislation that will only cost the state time and money if it were to pass? If he does not, we have to ask what can be done to properly educate lawmakers on how government works?
Regardless of ones like or dislike of guns or your interpretation of the second amendment, this bill is simply bad policy. There is no chance that Representative Greene will succeed in superseding the US Constitution, so it achieves nothing, and will cost taxpayers’ money in the process. Pro-gun activists should shun this type of legislation because it makes it appear that supporters have a disregard for the law of the land – a fact that simply isn’t true. Yes, anti-gun activists should oppose this legislation, not because it is pro guns, but because it cheapens the debate. And citizens that fall somewhere in the middle will only view legislation such as this with the cynicism it deserves. The severe and long term damage to peoples’ perception of the Utah Legislature, as well as the voter apathy it fosters and citizen disdain in the process cannot be overrated.
There is a real an honest debate to be had about guns and gun control – but this bill does nothing to address it. If we are to find solutions, we must engage in a discussion that advances policy, not hold it back.
To contact Rep. Greene, Click Here or call 801-889-5693
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill