Utah has become the third state to adopt a law exempting guns and ammunition made, sold and used in the state from massive federal regulations under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and supporters say about 30 more states have some sort of plan for their own exemptions in the works.
Officials in Utah say they expect a lawsuit over their direct challenge to Washington if the federal government succeeds in its current case against Montana’s law.
Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, who has spearheaded the Montana law, now describes himself as a sort of “godfather” to the national campaign. He confirmed Montana, Tennessee and Utah have enacted such laws.
“Wyoming and South Dakota, they have passed legislation and it’s on their governors’ desks,” he said. “We learned today Oklahoma’s House has passed a plan over to the Senate. Idaho’s House has just passed it along. Alaska’s has passed the House and is in the Senate Judiciary committee,” he said.
The move is about far more than just the regulation of handguns and shotguns, he said.
“It’s about states’ rights. Firearms are the vehicle, but the subject is states’ rights and an overbearing federal government,” he said.
He said one of his sources of information for the Montana lawsuit compiled a list of states’ rights issues such as identification, sovereignty and gun licensing that was 20 pages long.
He confirmed an emerging consensus that the federal government’s role in making local decisions needs to be reined in.
“It is huge,” he said. “We are glad the Firearms Freedom Act can be the point of the spear.”
There only are about a dozen states that have not at least taken up the issue for discussion.
He noted other subjects also have become issues, such as regulations dealing with the sale of alcohol and tobacco.
Originally introduced and passed in Montana, the FFA declares that any firearms made and retained in-state are beyond the authority of Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported yesterday the Utah plan was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert.
“There are times when the state needs to push back against continued encroachment from the federal government. Sending the message that we will stand up for a proper balance between the state and federal government is a good thing,” said Herbert in a statement.
The governor said he recognized the possibility of a lawsuit but said the cost can be minimized. In any event, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said any case probably would be delayed until Montana’s decision is rendered, the newspaper reported.
The Utah plan was sponsored by Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem. Dayton said, according to the Tribune, it “illustrates the universal yearning for freedom, and shows the people still feel the spark that inspired our ancestors at Lexington and Valley Forge. My hope is that the march toward tyranny can be turned back with our votes.”
In Montana, officials filed suit against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and others seeking a court order that the federal government stay out of the way of Montana’s management of its own firearms within state borders.
In a recent filing, the federal government demanded dismissal of the action, explaining it can regulate in-state commerce under the Constitution’s Commerce clause.
As WND reported, the action was filed by the Second Amendment Foundation and the Montana Shooting Sports Association in U.S. District Court in Missoula, Mont., to validate the principles and terms of the Montana Firearms Freedom Act, which took effect Oct. 3.
Marbut argues that the federal government was created by the states to serve the states and the people, and it is time for the states to begin drawing boundaries for the federal government and its agencies.
The government’s latest filing in the case demands its dismissal, citing a lacking of “standing” for the plaintiffs and the court’s lack of “jurisdiction,” as well as the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. The government filing argues, “The Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit have repeatedly held that even purely intrastate activities, such as those the MFFA purports to exempt from federal law, do affect interstate commerce and thus are within Congress’ power to regulate. As a result, even if plaintiffs had standing and jurisdiction existed, plaintiffs’ amended complaint fails to state a claim and must be dismissed.”
The Commerce Clause, however, can be interpreted to have been amended by the 10th Amendment, which is part of the Bill of Rights, adopted subsequent to the U.S. Constitution, Marbut explains.
His organization said, “The Commerce Clause was amended – by the 10th Amendment. It is a bedrock principle of jurisprudence that for any conflict between provisions of a co-equal body of law, the most recently enacted must be given deference as the most recent expression of the enacting authority. This principle is ancient. Without this principle, laws could not be amended or repealed.”
For example, U.S. courts repeatedly affirmed slavery before it ultimately was rejected.
There’s no question that the components of the Bill of Rights have authority: Just look at the 1st Amendment, Marbut explained.
The federal government had written gun dealers in Montana as well as in Tennessee when it adopted its own version of the same law that warned against following the state laws.
The letters were distributed to holders of Federal Firearms Licenses.
In the Tennessee case, Carson W. Carroll, the assistant director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told dealers the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act, adopted, “purports to exempt personal firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition manufactured in the state, and which remain in the state, from most federal firearms laws and regulations.”
The exemption is not right, the federal agency letter contends.