Imagine this nightmare scenario.
In the not-too-distant future, Congress passes a draconian, UK-style ban on all weapons. Or, maybe the Senate does it through an international treaty. Or, instead of Congress, maybe the President follows in the footsteps of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who whipped up an executive order requiring people to turn in their gold.
The method wouldn’t really matter. The end result would easily be one of the greatest attacks on liberty in American history.
States Nullify Federal Gun Ban
Now imagine a response to such unConstitutional Federal acts in this nightmare scenario. Your State legislator proposes a bill for your State that reads something like this:
A. This legislature declares that all Federal acts, laws, orders, rules or regulations regarding firearms and ammunition are a violation of the 2nd Amendment
B. This legislature declares that all such acts are hereby declared to be invalid in this State, shall not be recognized by this State, are specifically rejected by this State, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this State.
C. It shall be the duty of the legislature of this State to adopt and enact any and all measures as may be necessary to prevent the enforcement of any Federal acts, laws, orders, rules, or regulations in violation of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
In response, you’d certainly hear things like this:
- A State can’t nullify a Federal act!
- The Constitution says that all Federal laws are supreme.
- Even James Madison opposed nullification.
Each of these objections, and others, could easily take a full article — or two — to dismantle. So, I’ll be brief before moving on the main goal here.
Article VI of the Constitution says that Federal laws are only “supreme” when made “in pursuance of” the Constitution, not any old law as the lovers of power would like you to believe.
The bottom line is straightforward, and my main point, too — the Constitution means what the Founders and Ratifiers told us it means, no matter what the Congress, the President or the Supreme Court happen to say or do.
When FDR ordered you to turn in your gold, it was unConstitutional the moment he signed it.
When Bill Clinton signed the Assault Weapons Ban, that was unConstitutional as well.
George Bush violated the Constitution the moment he signed the USA PATRIOT Act and expanded Federal control over healthcare with Medicare Part D.
Barack Obama violated the Constitution with an undeclared war on Libya, the Affordable Care Act, NDAA “indefinite detention,” and more.
The sad fact is this, every Congress and every President has violated the Constitution. As the years go by, those violations get worse and more frequent.
What To Do?
Back to our nightmare scenario. Your State legislator gets massive support for the bill nullifying Federal gun laws. It passes by a wide margin and is signed into law. It creates a ripple effect. Soon, another State follows, passing a similar law. And then another. In no time, the number reaches as high as 14.
In those States, gun shops stay open, people continue to keep and bear arms. A vast majority of them do so without any trouble.
Federal officials make threats. The DOJ issues a warning: States “cannot nullify an act of congress.” The Department of Homeland Security threatens to shut down air travel in States that refuse to comply. The President says he could designate gun shop and firearms owners as agents providing material support for terrorism and subject them to indefinite detention under the NDAA.
Mostly just tough talk.
Sadly, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducts some high-profile raids. They shut down a small number of businesses; some people lose their liberty. But the Feds lack the manpower to handle it all.
So, when one city alone reaches a point where more than 1,000 shops are conducting business, selling guns in open defiance to the Federal ban, people start to realize that mass resistance leads to the desired end result: a nullification of the unConstitutional Federal act.
While that particular nightmare scenario isn’t just happening yet, we’ve certainly been in a nightmare scenario in this country for a long, long time.
We have a Federal government that hates the Constitution. It hates your liberty and no matter what political party is in power, or what person occupies the White House, their power always grows and your liberty is always less.
We have a government that claims the power to tell you what size toilet you can have, and what kind of light bulb you can buy. It claims the power to throw you in jail for growing a plant in your backyard and it will tax you for — doing nothing. On top of it all, they claim the power to arrest and detain you — forever. That’s kidnapping.
But, that hypothetical response – legislation to ban and nullify Federal gun laws — it’s not hypothetical at all. Currently, there are more than 15 States considering legislation to nullify Federal attacks on the right to keep and bear arms.
Take this excerpt from Missouri’s HB436, for example:
All federal acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations, whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution shall be invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.
Or this, from Utah’s HB114:
An official, agent, or employee of the federal government may not enforce or attempt to enforce any act, law, order, rule, or regulation of the federal government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition owned or manufactured commercially or privately in this state while it remains exclusively within this state. Violation of this Subsection (2) is a third degree felony.
In 1798, Thomas Jefferson called this “Nullification,” and James Madison called it “Interposition.” Madison supported these views in his “Report of 1800.” Later, he flip-flopped. For a while, he was even saying that Jefferson never used the word nullification. But, when a copy of the original Kentucky Resolutions in Jefferson’s own handwriting turned up, complete with the word “nullification,”Madison was forced to retreat.
And, even when Madison changed his mind on nullification in response to South Carolina’s version of it in the 1830s, he didn’t reject the notion of nullification as our story’s heroic State legislator has carried it out. In fact, Madison advised it.
He told us that when attempts to stop “usurpations of power” failed through the courts, the elective process, and even amending the Constitution, it would be a natural right for a single State to “rally to its reserved rights…and to decide between acquiescence & resistance.”
Today, people are using these principles right now on a wide range of issues, and their successes are growing by the year.
Call It What You Will
The fact is this: the Federal government doesn’t have the manpower to stop us. When enough people stand up and say NO to the Federal government – and enough States and local communities pass laws backing them up — there’s not much that the Federal government can do to force their unConstitutional laws, regulations… or mandates… down our throats.
Me? I call that kind of resistance “nullification.” But, I don’t care if you do too. You can call it defiance, civil disobedience or anything else you want. You can call the State acts Personal Liberty Laws or 2nd Amendment Preservation Acts. Refer to them as a reserved right, like Madison did, or nullification like Jefferson did.
It doesn’t really matter what words you use. What matters is what you do. Like Sam Adams leading the charge to nullify the Stamp Act, or States that pushed back against unConstitutional slave-catching laws, what matters most is what we do with our short time on earth.
For me, I’ll stand with liberty. I hope you’ll join me.