PHOENIX — A Senate panel voted Tuesday to declare that the latest executive action on guns taken by President Obama is not enforceable in Arizona.
The Senate Committee on Federalism, Mandates and Fiscal Responsibility voted to declare that presidential actions that are inconsistent with federal and state constitutions are unlawful “and are not recognized by the state.’’
It also bars public employees from enforcing, administering or cooperating with such actions. And individuals who believe some government worker is ignoring that prohibition would have the right to sue.
The vote on SB 1452 was unanimous, with the two Democrats on the panel absent. The measure now needs Senate approval, where it might actually provoke some debate.
Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, said the legislation is a direct outgrowth of the most recent action by Obama dealing with background checks at gun shows. Allen said that is contrary to federal law.
“President Obama needs to quit disrespecting our system of government,’’ she said.
“Even if it’s something he wants so much, it should go through the representatives of the people, it should go through the legislative branch,’’ Allen continued. “These laws should be changed there and not be changed through his executive orders.’’
Allen is targeting actions by the president last month where he said one of the goals was to expand background checks in a bid to restrict who can get weapons.
But Obama did not issue an executive order, which is a specific written directive to agencies under his control. Instead, the White House termed the measure an “executive action,’’ designed to “clarify’’ existing laws.
In this case, the administration pointed out that licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks on buyers. The White House said all this does is spell out that simply because a transaction occurs at a gun show does not mean it fits within existing exemptions from background checks for the person-to-person sale of weapons.
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The action was a bit vague, with even the White House saying that there is “no specific threshold number of firearms purchased or sold that triggers the licensure requirement.’’
Allen said Tuesday that the latest action is just part of a pattern by the president of “abusing executive orders.’’
“If the executive branch starts bleeding over into the responsibilities of the other two branches of government, somebody has to check that.’’
Allen said her belief does not change even if all the president says he is doing is providing guidance to federal agencies about the applicability of existing laws.
“President Obama’s made it very clear that he can use the pen to bring about (changes) if Congress does not act as quickly as he wants them to,’’ she said.
Allen compared it to the president’s efforts to expand deferred action programs to prevent the deportation of some individuals not here legally, an action a federal judge blocked.
Allen said that, in the case of her bill, it wouldn’t take a court action to block presidential actions in Arizona. She said that would be left to the Legislature, expressing the will of the people.
“We have more than once turned down background checks at gun shows,’’ Allen said.
And she contends that the president cannot decide that people who sell more than a set number of weapons at gun shows are, by definition, dealers.
“That’s not for him to determine,’’ she said.