In the past week, the Alaska House of Representatives has put on an act worthy of the Oscars as it impersonated South Carolina circa 1860.
In a 31-5 vote, it approved House Bill 69, which would make it a felony for a federal agent to enforce federal firearms laws on Alaskans.
If you thought federal law reigns supreme in the United States, you’re right. In a memo last month, legislative attorney Kathleen Strasbaugh wrote that the bill is “largely unconstitutional.” In instances when federal and state laws conflict, the federal law takes precedence, she added.
Despite the advice of Strasbaugh and others, the House persisted in pushing the bill forward in a sop to Second Amendment advocates.
Not only does the bill attempt to usurp federal rights, it also puts Alaskans at risk if they attempt to follow it. “The attorney general may defend a citizen of this state who is prosecuted … for violation of a federal law,” the bill claims.
That “may” would put the state in a tough situation if an Alaskan tried to follow the bill. If the attorney general turns down the case, that Alaskan is hung out to dry. If the attorney general takes the case, he puts the state on the hook for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees in a futile case.
While we agree that Second Amendment rights must be protected, the House of Representatives wasted valuable time and tax dollars passing HB 69 when it could have been focusing on issues that have a chance of passing the Alaska Senate or standing up in court.
Legislators can work on more than one topic at once, but we wonder what else the House could have done with the time wasted on this bill.
One hundred and fifty years ago, 750,000 Americans died in a war that established federal law as superior to state law.
While we might disagree with aspects of federal law, that means we must fight that law on federal terms; we cannot legally undermine it with state law.
Even the Alaska House seems to acknowledge that. On Wednesday, it passed HJR 4, a resolution that calls on President Obama to rescind executive actions placing restrictions on firearms.
This is an approach we can get behind.