Two similar bills HB2145 and SB1607 have been introduced to nullify federal gun control within the state of Tennessee. The legislation prohibits the state from enforcing “any federal act, law, order, rule or regulation that relates to a personal firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition within the limits of this state.”
STATUS: HB2145 assigned to Civil Justice Subcommittee on Feb. 04th and will need to be passed by a majority vote of the committee to be sent to the full house for a vote.
STATUS: SB1607 has assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and needs to also be approved by a majority of the committee members to be sent to the Senate for a vote.
YOUR ACTION IS NEEDED NOW. It doesn’t matter where Tennessee you live, take these actions today.
1. Call both bills committee chairs and vice-chairs. Strongly, but respectfully urge him to move this important bipartisan bill forward to a vote in his committee. A phone call has 10x the impact of an email.
|Jim Coley, Chair (615) 741-8201||Brian Kelsey, Chair (615) 741-3036
Doug Overbey, 1st Vice-Chair (615) 741-0981
Stacey Campfield, 2nd Vice-Chair 615) 741-1766
2. Call the rest of the committee members. Again, be strong, but respectful. Urge each of them to take action to move the bill forward and vote YES on SB1607. If they do not commit to a YES vote, ask them why. If they’re undecided, let them know you’ll call back in a few days.
|Mike Carter (615) 741-3025
Vance Dennis (615) 741-2190
Andrew Farmer (615) 741-4419
Sherry Jones (615) 741-2035
Jon Lundberg (615) 741-7623
Mike Stewart (615) 741-2184
Rick Womick (615) 741-2804
|Mike Bell (615) 741-1946
Lowe Finney (731) 424-0461
Ophelia Ford (615) 741-1767
Todd Gardenhire (615) 741-6682
Mark Green (615) 741-2374
John Stevens (615) 741-4576
3. Call Back – any NO or UNDECIDED – in 3-4 days. Ask if they’ve had a chance to review the legislation and what their opposition might be. Contact us at http://ask.tenthamendmentcenter.com with any information you get.
4. on Twitter? Retweet
— TenthAmendmentCenter (@TenthAmendment) January 27, 2014
5. Write a letter to the editor Look up your local newspaper and submit a letter to the editor voicing your support for HB2145 and SB1607. It’s essential that Tennessee no longer help but actively oppose the federal government’s attacks on the Second Amendment. Passing HB2145 and SB1607 will start that process.
Sen. Mae Beavers (R – Mt. Juliet) introduced SB1607 on Jan. 14. The bill declares that any firearm, ammunition or firearm accessory present in Tennessee does not rightfully fall under federal regulation. It goes on to declare any federal enactment of federal enforcement action relating to firearms void in the state, and prohibits any state cooperation with such actions.
No public official, employee, or agent of this state or any of its political subdivisions shall act, aid, or otherwise cooperate to impose, collect, enforce, or effectuate any fine, penalty, or other federal enactment or federal enforcement action in this state.
The legislation includes penalties, declaring that “It is an offense to knowingly enforce or attempt to enforce any federal enactment or to further assist any federal enforcement action,” making violations a class A misdemeanor.
Other provisions in the bill empower the attorney general to prosecute violations and allow citizens to bring a civil suit for damages under the law.
State refusal to cooperate with acts violating the Second Amendment would make them nearly impossible to enforce, especially if multiple states pass similar bills. The federal government depends on state and local agents to do just about everything. If enough states simply refuse to lift a finger to help the feds, it would effectively nullify federal gun laws, as Judge Napolitano has said.
And states don’t have to cooperate under the well-established anti-commandeering doctrine. Even the Supreme Court agrees that the federal government cannot require, compel or coerce state agencies to cooperate in the implementation or enforcement of federal laws or programs. Four Supreme Court cases serve as the foundation of the anti-commandeering doctrine, with Printz v. US as the cornerstone.
“We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case-by-case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”
Even without the Second Amendment, the federal government lacks the authority to regulate firearms within the borders of a state. The Constitution does not delegate this power to the federal government; therefore it remains with the states and the people.
Secondly, the language of the amendment itself defines much greater restriction on federal power. “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Infringe – v: Act so as to limit or undermine (something); encroach on.
The federal government may not constitutionally act in a way that even limits the right to keep and bear arms.
This bill not only protects the individual right to keep and bear arms in Tennessee, it also protects and defends the Constitution.
As Judge Andrew Napolitano has said recently, such widespread noncompliance can make a federal law “nearly impossible to enforce” (video here)
This process is under the direct advice of James Madison, who wrote about it in Federalist #46:
Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.
Let’s break down Madison’s prescription.
“Should an unwarrantable measure…” What does Madison mean by “unwarrantable?” The word literally means “unjustifiable.” Madison was clearly talking about federal acts with no constitutional justification. In other words, unconstitutional.
But notice something interesting, Madison implies that state governments can even resist a “warrantable” or justifiable federal act.
So what does Madison suggest states do when the feds overstep their authority?
“…the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand.” Madison anticipated the possibility of federal usurpation and clearly believed the states would serve as a check on federal power. He believed the states should and would resist unconstitutional acts.
So, what are the “means of opposition?”
1. Disquietude of the people – This would include protests and petitions generated at the grassroots level. Madison expected the people would throw a fit when the feds usurped power – even using the word “repugnance” to describe their displeasure. That’s a pretty strong word. And inevitably, disquietude leads to action – first at the local level, then bubbling up to the state level. That leads to the next step.
2. Refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union – Noncompliance. We preach it every day at the Tenth Amendment Center. Madison apparently knew what we know today. The feds rely on cooperation from state and local governments, as well as individuals. When enough people refuse to comply, they simply can’t enforce their so-called laws.
Noncompliance works. And it should be happening at both the state and local level.
3, The frowns of the executive magistracy of the State – Here Madison envisions governors formally protesting federal actions. This not only raises public awareness; executive leadership will also lead to the next step – legislative action. Prior to passage of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Gov. Garrard delivered a powerful message condemning the Alien and Sedition Acts and calling on legislative action.
4. Legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions -What exactly does Madison mean by “legislative devices?” He doesn’t make that clear. But we know they include resolutions, because he and Thomas Jefferson penned the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in response to the draconian and unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Together, these Principles of ’98 formalize the doctrine of nullification.
But do legislative devices stop at non-binding resolutions? Clearly not, because Madison said these measures would create “difficulties” and “impediments.” 18th-century dictionaries list “obstruction” as a synonym for impediment. In other words, these legislative devices could serve to block the operation of unconstitutional power. This infers actions including formal, binding prohibitions of state or local cooperation, and outright interposition: “to intervene or place an agency between two positions.”
The personal liberty laws passed by northern states to thwart the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 serve as the best historical example of “legislative devices.”
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made a farce of due process, allowing for the arrest of a suspected runaway slave based on the word of the “property owner.” He simply had to swear an affidavit attesting to his “ownership” of the person in question, and he was allowed to drag that man or woman back South into slavery. The accused wasn’t even allowed to present evidence in his own defense. The act was meant to protect the “property” of slave holders, but many free blacks found themselves accused of escaping slavery and faced the prospect of living out their life on a plantation. And northerners understood that even an accused runaway should remain innocent until proven guilty, and enjoy basic due process rights.
Instead of simply submitting to federal authority and quietly participating in constitutionally dubious and morally repugnant fugitive-slave roundups, northern lawmakers aggressively resisted the fugitive slave acts. Officials in these states did everything within their power to thwart enforcement, including denying federal agents the use of jails, and even impeaching state officials who lent support to fugitive-slave claimants. The Michigan legislature passed a law guaranteeing habeas corpus rights and a jury trial to any accused runaway, all in defiance of federal “law.” Some states went as far as to subject anybody attempting to remove a accused fugitives from the state without following the prescribed state procedure to kidnapping charges. And there were documented cases of arrests of federal agents.
Madison said these actions would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.
Was he right? Well, northern resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was so effective, South Carolina listed “nullification” of the fugitive slave laws in its declaration of causes for secession.
Madison clearly expected the states to serve as a check on federal power. He laid out the blueprint. And when the people of states have followed it, they’ve found success.
As Madison said, the means are “powerful and at hand.”
Some opponents of these efforts claim that the U.S. Constitution’s “supremacy clause” prevents your local community from taking action. But this is a complete misunderstanding, not only of the supremacy clause, but of the local legislation as well. There is absolutely ZERO serious dispute about the fact that the federal government cannot “commandeer” the states (or their political subdivisions, local governments) to carry out its laws. None. Even the Supreme Court has affirmed this multiple times.
In the 1992 case, New York v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress couldn’t require states to enact specified waste disposal regulations.
In the 1997 case, Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not command state law enforcement authorities to conduct background checks on prospective handgun purchasers.
In the 2012 case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruled that a significant expansion of Medicaid was not a valid exercise of Congress’s spending power, as it would coerce states to either accept the expansion or risk losing existing Medicaid funding.
In each case, the Supreme Court made it quite clear that, in their opinion, the federal government cannot require the states to act, or even coerce them to act through a threat to cut funding. Their opinion is correct. If the feds pass a law, they can sure try to enforce it if they want. But the states, and your local communities, absolutely do not have to help them in any way.