BATF vs. States Rights Montana and Tennessee: The Battle Begins

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A line was
drawn in the sand last week – a response by the Federal Government
to the State of Tennessee and their assertion of sovereignty under
the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

(Editor’s
note: A similar response was sent to Montana Firearms licenses on
07-16-09 as well)

Part of a series
of moves by states seeking to utilize the Tenth Amendment as a limit
on Federal Power, the Tennessee State Senate approved Senate Bill
1610 (SB1610), the Tennesse
Firearms Freedom Act
, by a vote of 22-7. The House companion
bill, HB1796 previously passed the House by a vote of 87-1.

Governor Breseden
allowed the bill to become law without signing.

The law states
that “federal laws and regulations do not apply to personal
firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition that is manufactured
in Tennessee and remains in Tennessee. The limitation on federal
law and regulation stated in this bill applies to a firearm, a firearm
accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured using basic materials
and that can be manufactured without the inclusion of any significant
parts imported into this state.”

At the time
of passage through the TN House and Senate, Judiciary Chairman Mae
Beavers had this to say:

“Be it
the federal government mandating changes in order for states to
receive federal funds or the federal government telling us how to
regulate commerce contained completely within this state –
enough is enough. Our founders fought too hard to ensure states’
sovereignty and I am sick and tired of activist federal officials
and judges sticking their noses where they don’t belong.”

The Federal
Government, by way of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
expressed its own view of the Tenth Amendment this week when it
issued an open letter to ‘all Tennessee Federal Firearms Licensees’
in which it denounced the opinion of Beavers and the Tennessee legislature.
ATF assistant director Carson W. Carroll wrote that ‘Federal
law supersedes the Act’, and thus the ATF considers it meaningless.

Constitutional
historian Kevin R.C. Gutzman sees this as something far removed
from the founders’ vision of constitutional government:

“The letter
says, in part, ‘because the Act conflicts with Federal firearms
laws and regulations, Federal law supersedes the Act, and all provisions
of the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act, and their
corresponding regulations, continue to apply.’ That is precisely
what I predicted the Federal Government’s response to the Tennessee
act would be. As
I told Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox News’s Glenn Beck Program
on June 5, 2009
, federal officials don’t care about a good
historical argument concerning the meaning of the Constitution.”

Read
the rest of the article

July
24, 2009

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