Friday, May 8, 2009

Nullification of Federal Law and States' Rights

I've mentioned these stories tangentially below, but they deserve their own post. Montana has already passed a law, and Utah and Tennessee are considering following suit, that has great importance. The stores are here and here.

The issue is guns and gun control, but the laws have broader implications. Much broader. First, specifically, these laws make "guns that are made and kept within state boundaries exempt from federal regulations. That means they're exempt from things like background checks, licensing and registration." (First story above.) In effect, Montana is choosing to nullify Federal law with regard to firearms. I hope Utah and Tennessee really do pass similar laws.

The broader implication is that we may soon be fighting civil war fought not with firearms but with legislation. Nullification of Federal law within state borders would result in a reassertion of States' Rights, a concept enshrined in the 10th Amendment. When the 10th Amendment is active, the 9th is usually respected as well, since State legislatures are very directly dependent on their constituencies.

How will the Federal government fight this blow to their power? They'll try to use interstate commerce, which they regulate under the Constitution. The pretext used in the past will be that because people in Montana are buying fewer guns from other states, they're affecting interstate commerce, and thus the Federal government can step in and regulate even guns made in Montana for use only in Montana. Yes, that pretext is just as stupid and ridiculous as it sounds, so we need to fight it as hard as possible. When it arises, we need to call, write, and otherwise bombard our representatives with communications that we support Montana's law and do not support Federal attempts to undermine it.

If this is done with respect to firearms and eventually on other matters, we have the chance to once again become a Republic worthy of the respect of Jeffersonian Libertarians.

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