Last week, the Wyoming house overwhelmingly passed House Bill 95 (HB95), the Firearms Freedom Act.
The bill states:
“that specified firearms that are manufactured, sold, purchased, possessed and used exclusively within Wyoming shall be exempt from federal regulation, including registration requirements”
In 2009, both Tennessee and Montana passed the Act into state law. Last week, Gov. Gary Herbert signed the Act and Utah became the third state to have passed the law.
The principle behind such legislation is nullification, which has a long history in the American tradition. When a state ‘nullifies’ a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or ‘non-effective,’ 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.
Implied in any nullification legislation is enforcement of the state law. In the Virginia Resolution of 1798, James Madison wrote of the principle of interposition:
That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.
HB95 includes this principle, and if passed, would impose penalties for violations of the law:
Any official, agent or employee of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce any act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the United States government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in Wyoming and that remains exclusively within the borders of Wyoming shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be subject to imprisonment for not more than two (2) years, a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or both.
All across the country, activists and state-legislators are pressing for similar legislation, to nullify specific federal laws within their states.
A proposed Constitutional Amendment to effectively ban national health care will go to a vote in Arizona in 2010, and the Virginia Senate recently passed a similar bill, which now awaits action from the state house.
Fourteen states now have some form of medical marijuana laws – in direct contravention to federal laws which state that the plant is illegal in all circumstances. And, massive state nullification of the 2005 Real ID Act has rendered the law nearly void.
CLICK HERE to view the Tenth Amendment Center’s printable Firearms Freedom Act Brochure (pdf)
CLICK HERE to view the Tenth Amendment Center’s Firearms Freedom Act Legislative Tracking Page
UPDATE: The Senate has passed the bill, amended, on the 2nd reading. It need just one more vote from the Senate before being sent to the Governor for his signature. More to follow…