Rapp joins bill to stop federal gun control laws

State Reps. Kathy Rapp and Daryl Metcalfe are teaming up again.

After joining with fellow Republican state representatives on Tuesday to announce co-sponsorship of the Pennsylvania Open Workforce Initiative, a package of bills containing controversial right to work legislation, Rapp (R-Warren/Forest/McKean) announced Thursday she is signing on as co-sponsor of House Bill 357, a measure primarily sponsored by Metcalfe (R-Butler).

Rapp and Metcalfe are primary sponsors of two of the bills in the open workforce package.

House Bill 357, which Metcalfe has dubbed the Right to Bear Arms Protection Act, seeks to make any new federal firearms laws unenforcable within the state of Pennsylvania.

“Passage of my legislation will send the message that there will never be additional gun control anywhere in Pennsylvania,” Metcalfe said in a press release. “Whether by White House executive orders, congressional fiat or judicial activism, we will never allow the left to benefit from the wicked acts of murderers in order to advance their senseless gun-grabbing agenda which would only succeed in replacing one of our most sacred personal liberties with the chains of government tyranny.”

If passed, the bill would, according to Metcalfe’s press release and a nearly identical Thursday press release from Rapp:

“Prohibit the enforcement of any new federal registration, restriction or prohibition requirement for privately owned firearms, magazines and ammunition,

“Require the state of Pennsylvania, including the Office of Attorney General, to intercede on behalf of commonwealth citizens against any federal attempt to register, restrict or ban the purchase or ownership of firearms and firearms accessories which are currently legal products.”

Specific details of the bill were unavailable as it has not been introduced in the state House of Representatives .

A Jan. 11 memorandum from Metcalfe to the House on the bill reads, “I am currently having legislation drafted that is similar to firearm legislation recently introduced in Wyoming.”

The Wyoming bill, which is available, contains the following provisions:

A restriction on public servants and dealers forbidding them to enforce any act, law, rule or regulation of the United States government on firearms, ammunition or accessories owned or manufactured in the state.

A provision making it a felony offense punishable by between one and five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for any official, agent or employee of the United States government to enforce federal firearms law within the state.

Permission for the state attorney general to defend state citizens found to be in violation of federal firearms law.

A clause stating, “Any federal law, rule, regulation or order created or effective on or after January 1, 2013 shall be unenforceable within the borders of Wyoming if the law, rule, regulation or order attempts to: Ban or restrict ownership of a semi-automatic firearm or any magazine of a firearm; or require any firearm, magazine or other firearm accessory to be registered in any manner.”

“Once this legislation is adopted, federal officials who unconstitutionally infringe on one of our most sacred individual liberties can be arrested and charged with a criminal offense,” Rapp’s release said.

“The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned,” Metcalfe’s release said, quoting the Pennsylvania Constitution. “Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution makes it crystal clear that no level of government, especially the federal government, has any authority whatsoever to impose senseless restrictions on law-abiding firearms owners, or worse, the confiscation of legally owned firearms. The purpose of my legislation is to force any gun-grabbing federal official to count the costs of unconstitutionally disarming or denying Pennsylvania citizens their God-given right to keep and bear arms.”

Rapp’s release echoed Metcalfe’s reading, “Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution clearly states that, ‘The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.’ Once this legislation is adopted, federal officials who unconstitutionally infringe upon one our most sacred individual liberties can be arrested and charged with a criminal offense.”

Both releases called the right to bear arms “one of our most sacred… liberties.”

Similar bills are being introduced across the nation in anticipation of federal action in response to the massacre of 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Conn., by a lone gunman. So far, no new federal action to set bans on firearms, limit ammunition or create a registry of firearms owners has been enacted beyond what was in place at the time of the shooting.

If passed, the laws are likely to encounter hurdles over whether they are constitutional under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Article VI, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution reads, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby.”

In the 1958 case, Cooper v. Aaron, the United States Supreme Court rejected laws adopted by the state of Arkansas in an attempt to nullify federal policy regarding desegregation, which was set in the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. The court ruled that federal law controlled and could not be nullified by state statute or officials.

The U.S. Supreme Court has cited the supremacy clause as giving federal law precedence over state law in more than a half-dozen rulings, some dealing directly with state laws passed in opposition to federal law.