ATF v. the 10th Amendment

July 16th, 2009

The ATF has fired its first shot across the bow (pdf) regarding the Firearms Freedom Act that passed last month in Tennessee.  In a letter recently sent to Tennessee Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders, they stated:

The passage of the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act (…) has generated questions from industry members as to how this State law may affect them while engaged in a firearms business activity. (…) However, because the Act conflicts with Federal firearms laws and regulations, Federal law supersedes the Act, and all provisions of the Gun Control and the National Firearms Act, and their corresponding regulations, continue to apply.

The remainder of the brief memorandum simply reiterates the basic responsibilities of FFL's.

So far, it's just a "friendly" reminder. What happens this winter, when the Act takes place in several states, remains to be seen.

Firearms Freedom Act: Six States Aboard

June 6th, 2009

The Tennessee Senate has voted 22-7 to approve their state's version of the Firearms Freedom Act ("the Act"). It passed in the House 87-1 and now awaits the governor's signature. Despite any misgivings he may have, Bredesen knows that the legislature has the votes to override a veto, as they did today with another gun bill. The Act will pass, with or without the governor's blessing.

Tennesse now joins Montana, in which Governor Schweitzer signed the same bill on April 15. The Montana Act goes into effect October 1st. Then we'll see the fireworks.

It's is also making headway in Texas, Alaska, South Carolina and Minnesota.

In each state, the Firearms Freedom Act asserts the state's sovereignty within its own borders and rejects Federal regulation over arms possessed within the borders of those states. Traditionally, the Federal government has justified such meddling via the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution, as well as through 18 USC § 922.

Strictly speaking, the Fed's mandate only applies in situations involving commerce across state lines, and in matters that could affect said activites. If an item is assembled in-state, from parts manufactured in-state, and it isn't sold across state lines, then there's a real question of whether of not the Federal government can interfere.

Taking cues from the 9th and 10th Amendments, many states are saying that it can't.

Some days, I'm proud of my government.

February 17th, 2009

Georgia has joined Arizona, California, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Washington in reaffirming her sovereignty. As many as 29 states are expected to pass similar resolutions this year.

Why is this such a big deal? Because the Federal government has trampled all over the Tenth Amendment and forgotten its place. In case you slept through civics class (or if they don't teach it anymore), the Tenth Amendment reads:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The whole purpose of the this amendment was to structure Federalism with a slant towards the States. The Federal government is supposed to be the agent of the States, and therefore subordinate to them.

Of course, it doesn't seem to work that way anymore, does it?