State Republican lawmakers' continued magical thinking that they can simply exempt Arizona from federal laws - even those that don't yet exist - is evidenced in legislation that would make it a felony for federal employees or licensed gun dealers to enforce any new restrictions on semiautomatic firearms or magazines.

This isn't the first time lawmakers have sought to play "you're not the boss of me" with the federal government.

The Legislature also took immigration policy into its own hands with SB 1070, parts of which the U.S. Supreme Court later determined to be an overreach because immigration policy is clearly in the federal government's realm.

In 2011, Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen put forward a bill that would have given the state sole authority to regulate greenhouse gases, bypassing the Environmental Protection Agency.

The latest attempt, Senate Bill 1112, is sponsored by Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, and has passed out of the Senate's Public Safety Committee.

Ward seeks to head off any changes to federal gun laws passed after Jan. 1, 2013, that would ban or restrict semiautomatic firearms or magazines, or that would require any gun, magazine or other gun accessory to be registered.

Under Ward's legislation, state and local law enforcement would arrest federal agents who sought to enforce any such changes to federal gun laws. In simple terms, it would be against state law - punishable by one year in state prison - to enforce specific federal gun laws.

This overreaction to potential federal laws is fueled by efforts to make reasonable and commonsense changes to what kind of assault-type weapons and accessories are available. The conversation is long overdue, and it appears that the December murder of 20 children and six adults in a Newtown, Conn., school is spurring people to finally talk about what can and should be done to improve public safety.

The White House has recommended sensible changes to federal gun laws, like a cap on how many rounds an extended magazine could hold and requiring background checks for every gun sale.

Ward, and others, including members of Congress, have reacted to this shift by acting as if guns have no role in mass-shooting murders. She said the federal government is "reaching down into the state, especially after tragedies have happened," and that is why she believes it necessary to criminalize enforcement of potential federal gun-law changes.

If the slaughter of children isn't a legitimate impetus to examine our gun laws, then we, as a nation, are lost.

Ward's bill, were it to become law, would incur a costly court fight - one that would be an irresponsible use of dearly needed state money. A state can't simply decide which federal laws to follow.

We encourage sensible Arizonans to contact their state lawmakers and let them know that this futile exercise isn't a wise use of their time or our money.

Arizona Daily Star

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