Is The Second Amendment Preservation Act Bad For Georgia?
What SAPA means for law-abiding citizens and the administration of justice in Georgia
The challenges and threats facing law enforcement officers have increased significantly in recent years. Police and sheriff departments across the country are finding it more difficult to recruit and retain officers due to the increased level of physical danger and mental stress. District attorneys and prosecutors are also facing greater scrutiny and having difficulty attracting legal talent. Against this backdrop, a bill introduced by Georgia state senator Colton Moore raises alarm bells and will surely spark heated debate over its potential impact on public safety. Dubbed the Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA), the bill purports to protect citizens' rights under the Second Amendment, but its true intent and consequences are far different.
Simply put, this bill is a nullification bill. The concept of nullification became well known during the decades preceding the American Civil War, most notably through the work of John C. Calhoun. During the prohibition era, when cities like New York informed the federal government that their police forces would not enforce the prohibition law, that was nullification in practice. Currently, illegal immigrant sanctuary cities and states with recreational marijuana laws have employed the concept of nullification. This is the line followed by SAPA.
The bill, which is similar to legislation in other states such as Missouri, is marketed as a shield against federal gun control measures. It would prohibit any state or local employee from enforcing “various federal statutes, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, regulations, or other actions which collect data or restrict or prohibit the manufacture, ownership, and use of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition exclusively within the borders of this state.” This would be done by allowing citizens to bring a civil action in superior court against offending individuals and departments. The potential cost to officers of such action is a $50,000 fine plus court costs and attorney fees.
SAPA Results In Other States
In reality, the SAPA has had a chilling effect on law enforcement and prosecutors in Missouri. Some sheriff's and police departments have stopped working with federal agencies for fear of being sued and facing steep fines. The way it is written provides for an expansive interpretation of everyday investigative acts that could invite civil actions and $50,000 fines. This has left state and local law enforcement agencies without the resources they need to tackle gangs and the fentanyl crisis being fed by Mexican drug cartels. Moreover, the SAPA has become a tool for drug dealers to threaten police officers and discourage them from testifying in court.
Law enforcement across Missouri have complained that the Act hinders their ability to defend and protect Missouri citizens. Kacey Proctor, a prosecutor in southern Missouri, explained how the Act can hinder investigations. Proctor said he witnessed police debating whether to send bullet casings for analysis after a highway shooting.
In Kansas, two citizens relied on the state's SAPA law to protect them when buying a silencer. However, federal officials later enforced federal law themselves, and the men have now lost their Second Amendment rights for a decade or more. The same can be expected for unsuspecting Georgians if SAPA is passed.
Despite its ostensible purpose of protecting Second Amendment rights, the SAPA is clearly aimed at getting the Supreme Court to overturn the current interpretation of the commerce clause, which gives Congress virtually unlimited scope in lawmaking. This interpretation has been in place since the late 1930s, but if it were to change, it would return us to federalism closer to the founding fathers' vision.
While I fully support the cause of returning to founding era federalism and restoring the federal government to be one of limited and enumerated powers, I believe that the SAPA bill introduced by Senator Moore is deeply flawed and will make Georgia a less safe place for law-abiding citizens, while providing succor to criminals. This bill should be withdrawn, and alternative means of protecting second amendment rights and pursuing the goal of restoring federalism should be sought.
There are better ways to protect second amendment rights.
**FULL DISCLOSURE: My stance on the second amendment is that I believe citizens have the right to keep and bear arms just as the founders did. So, if you have any fighter jets for sale, let me know.