The Arizona state legislature flexed its muscles last Friday by approving a bill that allows lawsuits to be brought against city officials who knowingly and willfully pass gun-control ordinances that violate state statutes. The law allows judges to levy a $50,000 civil penalty and remove city officials from office.
The Arizona Senate approved Senate Bill 1266 on an 18-11 vote. The House passed the measure 31-23 and sent it to Gov. Doug Ducey for his expected signature.
According to the Yuma Sun, the measure is both designed to pre-empt future city ordinances as well as address those passed by Tucson city officials. Tucson approved two gun control measures in recent years that former Attorney General Tom Horne concluded are beyond the city’s authority. City officials have refused to repeal either measure.
One allows police to “request a breath sample from someone who has negligently discharged a firearm and appears intoxicated.” The other requires individuals to report the loss or theft of a firearm to the police or face a $100 civil penalty.
State lawmakers hold that both regulations fall under state jurisdiction. Horne concluded in 2013 that the “discharge and use of firearms” as well as the “possession or transfer of firearms” are not matters Arizona cities are not permitted to regulate. Thus far the city has ignored Horne’s formal legal opinion, but the passage of SB 1266 will allow the state to bring lawsuits and penalties if Tucson continues to ignore Horne’s findings.
According to the online newspaper AZCentral.com, SB 1266 is just one of many measures designed to clarify the boundaries between city and state authority. State officials have passed measures this year aimed at everything from dog breeders to taxes to plastic shopping bags.
The measures are meant to promote uniformity across the state so citizens and businesses don’t have to worry about contradictory laws among Arizona’s numerous cities and counties.
State officials have driven these measures, but some city councilmen are also behind the effort.
“We don’t have clearly defined lines of what is local and what is state-mandated,” Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio told AZCentral.com. “If you want to find ways to make things work … you’ve got to have uniform laws.”
According to DiCiccuio, overseeing law enforcement or city infrastructure should remain city issues, but things like the minimum wage, taxes, and (presumably) guns should not.
“The more you control a business, the more you control someone’s life, the less likely they are to be a productive entity,” he said. “The whole idea behind uniformity is to bring uniform laws across so you can conduct commerce, so you can live your life.”
Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241
Conspiracy Against Rights
This statute makes it unlawful for two or more persons to conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person of any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the United States, (or because of his/her having exercised the same).
It further makes it unlawful for two or more persons to go in disguise on the highway or on the premises of another with the intent to prevent or hinder his/her free exercise or enjoyment of any rights so secured.
Punishment varies from a fine or imprisonment of up to ten years, or both; and if death results, or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years, or for life, or may be sentenced to death.
Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242
Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law
This statute makes it a crime for any person acting under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to willfully deprive or cause to be deprived from any person those rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S.
This law further prohibits a person acting under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation or custom to willfully subject or cause to be subjected any person to different punishments, pains, or penalties, than those prescribed for punishment of citizens on account of such person being an alien or by reason of his/her color or race.
Acts under “color of any law” include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the bounds or limits of their lawful authority, but also acts done without and beyond the bounds of their lawful authority; provided that, in order for unlawful acts of any official to be done under “color of any law,” the unlawful acts must be done while such official is purporting or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. This definition includes, in addition to law enforcement officials, individuals such as Mayors, Council persons, Judges, Nursing Home Proprietors, Security Guards, etc., persons who are bound by laws, statutes ordinances, or customs.
Punishment varies from a fine or imprisonment of up to one year, or both, and if bodily injury results or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire shall be fined or imprisoned up to ten years or both, and if death results, or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 42, SECTION 1983
Every person who, under color of any statute ordinance, regulation, custom, or by usage, of any State or Territory, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. EVERY PERSON SHALL BE LIABLE IN AN ACTION AT LAW SUIT IN EQUITY NO EXCLUSION FOR JUDGES BY ANY ACT OF CONGRESS.
Thanks for pointing out the federal code reference on this issue. I take from your effort you wish to also point out the City of Tucson is liable to federal prosecution, in this particular case.
Sadly, because of capricious application of law within (especially, but not limited to) federal executive agencies, state legislatures and executives must step into the breach. I would imagine the DOJ will make some official, if not legal comment on this and meanwhile, they’ll also get amnesia as to the Constitution. They’ll thus champion Tucson’s cause and demonize Arizona’s. But then again, that’s no big surprise, its just the politics of hurt feelings.
Either way, glad to see the Arizona legislature bellied up to clarify limits of power rather than allow an up- or down-stream governmental entity to creep across the line. I wish our Texas legislature would do the same, especially at the cross-roads of the 2nd and 4th Amendments.
Man I am glad to see that happen. I also wish they would pass a state statute which sets forth a life sentence for any public servant of the state (to include a public servant of any municipality within the State borders) to knowingly attempt to make, or knowingly attempt to enforce, any law which violates the rights, privilege, power or immunity of any person described as a right within the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States. I’d love to see that Legislature pass a Bill which proposes it as a capitol offense (i.e., a death penalty) should a public servant of that State or any municipality within it) to attempt to make or attempt to enforce any law which violates a right, privilege, power or immunity set forth within the 2nd amendment of the Federal Constitution.
I bet they’d quit their “…I’m not a Constitutional Scholar” crap fairly quickly and pay attention to their “proposals” and “ordinances” quite rapidly. If a sixth grade dropout can understand the clear intent of a 27 word sentence set forth in the Federal Constitution, then I bet a City Council Member or State Legislator could be reasonably held to task for their actions.
I love that idea!!
Now, if we could get it done federally and have the same held for all those in each government branch. Including the alphabet soup agencies.
Steve That’s a great idea !
AMEN! From the Dog Catcher in the smallest burg in the country, to the POTUS included.