Will Missouri Nullify Federal Gun Laws?

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Missouri State
Representative Cynthia Davis has introduced the “Firearms Freedom
Act” (HB1230)
– prefiled for the 2010 legislative session. The bill “Asserts
the right of the State of Missouri to regulate the intrastate use
and acquisition of certain firearms pursuant to the reserved powers
of the state over intrastate commerce and the Second Amendment right
to keep and bear arms.”

While the bill’s
title focuses solely federal gun regulations, it has far more to
do with the 10th Amendment’s mandate that powers not delegated
to the federal government are “reserved to the states, respectively,
or to the people.” It states:

Amendment
X of the Constitution of the United States guarantees to the states
and their people all powers not granted to the federal government
elsewhere in the Constitution and reserves to the state and people
of Missouri certain powers as they were understood at the time that
Missouri was admitted to statehood. The guarantee of those powers
is a matter of contract between the state and people of Missouri
and the United States as of the time that the compact with the United
States was agreed upon and adopted by Missouri and the United States

Amendment
II of the Constitution of the United States reserves to the people
the right to keep and bear arms as that right was understood at
the time that Missouri was admitted to statehood, and the guarantee
of the right is a matter of contract between the state and people
of Missouri and the United States as of the time that the compact
with the United States was agreed upon and adopted by Missouri and
the United States

Some supporters
of the legislation say that a successful application of such a state-law
would set a strong precedent and open the door for states to take
their own positions on a wide range of activities that they see
as not being authorized to the Federal Government by the Constitution.

Firearms Freedom
Acts have already passed in both Montana and Tennessee, and have
been introduced in a number of other states around the country.
(Click
here to see the full list
.)

There’s
been no lack of controversy surrounding these laws, either. The
Tenth Amendment Center recently
reported on the ATF’s position that such laws don’t matter
:

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:

“Their
view is that the states exist for the administrative convenience
of the Federal Government, and so of course any conflict between
state and federal policy must be resolved in favor of the latter.”

“This
is another way of saying that the Tenth Amendment is not binding
on the Federal Government. Of course, that amounts to saying that
federal officials have decided to ignore the Constitution when it
doesn’t suit them.”

Read
the rest of the article

December
9, 2009

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