Second Amendment

States Outlaw Enforcement of Federal Gun Restrictions

Reasserting federalism to challenge top-down authoritarian decision making

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In mid-April, Kansas passed a law asserting that federal gun regulations do not apply to guns made and owned in Kansas. Under the law, Kansans could manufacture and sell semi-automatic weapons in-state without a federal license or any federal oversight.

Kansas' "Second Amendment Protection Act" backs up its states' rights claims with a penalty aimed at federal agents: when dealing with "Made in Kansas" guns, any attempt to enforce federal law is now a felony. Bills similar to Kansas' law have been introduced in at least 37 other states. An even broader bill is on the desk of Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell. That bill would exempt any gun owned by an Alaskan from federal regulation. In Missouri, a bill declaring federal gun laws "null and void" passed by an overwhelming majority in the state house, and is headed for debate in the senate.

Mobilizing the pre-Civil-War doctrine of "nullification," these bills assert that Congress has overstepped its ability to regulate guns — and that states, not the Supreme Court, have the ultimate authority to decide whether a law is constitutional or not.

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  1. and that states, not the Supreme Court, have the ultimate authority to decide whether a law is constitutional or not.

    I support this measure, but not that statement.

    It’s not that I think states are the ultimate authority and they can ignore the supreme court. That would allow them to do things when the supreme court tells them no.

    Ideally, either the state or the supreme court could decide it unconstitutional, giving both of them a veto and making governing much more difficult.

    1. The idea is that states can decide that laws are unconstitutional or otherwise null and void within their borders. New York has no power to declare that Michigan state law is unconstitutional nor to compel Michigan to adhere to their interpretation of the law – Michigan, as a sovereign state, is the ultimate authority on the law within the State of Michigan.

      James Madison – the author of the Constitution – wrote explicitly on the idea that the states, as parties to the compact which created the Federal government, certainly had the power to limit the exercise of Federal power by declaring Federal laws unconstitutional – it would be absurd to think that only one party to an agreement has authority to determine when the terms of that agreement have been breached.

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