A sixth state – Arizona – now has declared that guns made and kept inside its borders essentially are free from federal application, registration and ownership regulations in a surging movement among states that one supporter describes as a direct challenge to “a government monopoly on the supply of firearms.”
Gov. Jan Brewer this week signed the state’s version of a “Firearms Freedom Act,” which originated in Montana and now has been adopted by six states, with several dozen more in various stages of their own plans.
Brewer issued a statement that the law is intended to give Washington the message that they should not try to “get between Arizonans and their constitutional rights.”
Arizona joins Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah and Tennessee as well as Montana, where Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association was a key proponent.
Marbut has warned that under the current system of federal approval for gun purchases, federal registration requirements, federal restrictions and federal limits, the U.S. essentially has established a monopoly on guns.
The “Firearms Freedom Act” measures being adopted around the nation now, he said, are supported by the Ninth and Second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and are needed to break down that monopoly.
“The current federal scheme of regulating the supply system for new firearms in the U.S. is so complete it might actually constitute a government monopoly on the supply of firearms. Under current federal regulation, no firearm may be made and sold to another person without federal government permission – not one firearm,” he wrote.
“With the natural right of self-defense, people must also be allowed access to firearms made and sold outside the government-controlled supply chain,” he said.
To submit to a government gun monopoly, he said, would be to believe “that the Constitution is an old, dead, obsolete and meaningless piece of paper, the Ninth Amendment is as worthless as the rest, and has no relevance to the [Montana Firearms Freedom Act],” he wrote.
“If the observer believes that the Constitution actually means something, and that those who ratified the Constitution and its amendments had authority to do so, that they understood meaningful terms precisely as used and applied in their time, and that they knew what they were doing, then import of the Ninth Amendment begins to come into focus.”
Derek Sheriff reported at the Arizona Tenth Amendment Center that Arizona’s bill asserts “Arizona’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment and the people’s unenumerated rights under the Ninth Amendment. They also emphasize the fact that when Arizona entered the union in 1912, its people did so as part of a contract between the state and the people of Arizona and the United States.”
Kurt Hofmann of the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner said the surging movement across the states is “a challenge to the federal government’s grotesquely expansive use of the interstate commerce to regulate – well … everything, whether it has anything to do with interstate commerce or not.”
“Liberty doesn’t just happen – it needs to be worked for,” he said. “Getting that work done can make the difference between having to work for liberty, and having to fight for it.”
Marbut, who has described himself as the godfather of the Firearms Freedom Act movement, has reported previously that while Constitution’s Commerce Clause can be viewed as regulating interstate commerce, it also can be viewed as having been modified when the later Second Amendment assuring citizens of the right to own weapons was adopted.
No less significant, he suggests, is the Ninth Amendment, which states, “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
In the Western world, he said, “Individuals voluntarily surrender some portion of their political power to the community of their state in order to empower the state to do some selected things for them in common that they cannot do well or effectively as individuals. The political state of individuals, in turn, surrenders a specific portion of its collected political power to the United States under our federated system, and for the same reasons.
“However, it is important to note two important points. First, this grant of power from sovereign individuals to state, and secondarily from state to federal, is a limited transfer of power. Under this system, people do not sell themselves into slavery to unlimited governments, nor do they fail to delineate limits to this grant of political power to governments. Second, this grant of power from individuals to government is for a very specific purpose.”
The Declaration of Independence states “governments are instituted among men” “to secure” the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he writes.
Throughout the founding of the U.S., he explains, individuals always have granted “carefully specified powers” to a central government, not an authoritarian right to control everything.
Specific rights were retained in the Bill of Rights, which was never intended to be an exhaustive list. Hence, the Ninth Amendment, he said.
“Some of those most interested in instituting a federal government ‘to secure these rights’ understood that it would be impossible to provide an exhaustive catalog of rights inherent in people as a part of their humanity, ‘natural rights’ or ‘liberty rights,'” he wrote.
He said there are powers and rights that cannot be particularly enumerated, and if a list of rights is specific, it could be interpreted that no other rights exist.
“The Ninth and Tenth Amendments [reserving other rights to the people and states] were added to protect all rights not listed in the first eight amendments,” he said.
“Examples are the right to privacy, the right to self-defense, the right of freedom of conscience, and the right to choose in one’s own affairs, all considered to be important individual rights but none mentioned under the list of protected rights in the Bill of Rights,” he said.
Applying it to the present case, he said, the right to self-defense strongly implies the right to keep and bear arms.
“Of what value are any or all of the other protected rights if a person may not defend the person from threat to life or limb? How could a newspaperman exercise his freedom of the press if he could be killed with impunity? How could any person effectively exercise his freedom of speech if he could be summarily killed because he exercised that freedom?” he asked.
When South Dakota’s law was signed by Gov. Mike Rounds, a commentator there noted it addresses the “rights of states which have been carelessly trampled by the federal government for decades.”
Marbut has told WND the issue is not only about guns but about states’ rights and the constant overreaching by federal agencies and Washington to impose their requirements on in-state activities.
Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center said Washington likely is looking for a way out of the dispute.
“I think they’re going to let it ride, hoping some judge throws out the case,” he told WND earlier. “When they really start paying attention is when people actually start following the [state] firearms laws.”
WND reported earlier when Wyoming joined the states with self-declared exemptions from federal gun regulation, officials there took the unusual step of actually including penalties for any agent of the U.S. who “enforces or attempts to enforce” federal gun rules on a “personal firearm.”
The costs could be up to two years in prison and $2,000 in fines for an offender.
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, 2009.
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.
In demanding the dismissal of the case, the government claimed the authority to regulate even “intrastate” commerce if it chooses.
In an analysis by the Tenth Amendment Center, the gun laws were described as a nullification.
“Laws of the federal government are to be supreme in all matters pursuant to the delegated powers of U.S. Constitution. When D.C. enacts laws outside those powers, state laws trump. And, as Thomas Jefferson would say, when the federal government assumes powers not delegated to it, those acts are ‘unauthoritative, void, and of no force’ from the outset,” said the analysis.
“When a state ‘nullifies’ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘noneffective,’ within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned. Implied in such legislation is that the state apparatus will enforce the act against all violations – in order to protect the liberty of the state’s citizens.”