I have watched in Tennessee the fight to preserve the right to bear arms in the wake of current and looming federal actions. These actions provoked by the President’s executive orders and the upcoming actions from members of Congress will prohibit, restrict, tax and infringe on the right to bear arms on the individual states constitutions and the rights of the citizens of the union. In a hearing, the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Senator Kelsey repeatedly said, that the the 2nd Amendment Preservation Act is not a bill about the 2nd Amendment. His reason had been, the NRA has not shown up. To him and many other advocates of federal supremacy, the people of each state are not enough of a voice for the 2nd Amendment even though the 2nd Amendment states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Those in favor of federal supremacy have overlooked that the right to keep and bear arms is to the people.
But in Montana, the NRA did show up. His being there, is not only proof that this is about preserving the 2nd
Amendment, but it’s also a state’s rights and limiting the power of the federal government.
I’m the Montana state liaison of the National Rifle Association, and we are speaking in support of HB302. As the sponsor (House Representative Krayton Kerns) indicated it’s a fairly simple bill. It would prohibit the state or local enforcement or the expenditure of state resources to enforce a federal ban on semi-automatic firearms or high capacity magazines. Some of the opponents say that there is a constitutional problem, that it (the Second Amendment Preservation Act) violates the supremacy clause. I assert that is incorrect. There are some states that are pushing similar legislation. But rather than prohibiting state enforcement, it will criminalize federal officials who come into the state and enforce federal law. It is conceivable that could have some supremacy clause issues. But that is not what this bill does. This bill is very narrow. It deals with what state and local enforcement can do. It is certainly within the purview of the state legislature to do that.
One of Montana’s own, former Ravalli county sheriff, Jay Printz generated the US Supreme Court precedent that provides the prevailing case law on this issue. That was his 1997 challenge on the interim provisions on the so-called Brady Bill that required background checks on gun purchasers. And the ruling was that it was unconstitutional. That the federal government could not commendeer local law enforcement. It basically said, allowing the federal government to draft the police of the 50 states into service would increase federal powers far beyond what the constitution intends. So that was an important ruling on states rights and limits federal power. For the purpose of the discussion of this bill. Let me close, while the feds cannot commandeer local law enforcement, the state certainly do have the right to set limits for local law enforcement. That simply is what this bill does. That gun bans are not what is wanted in Montana. With that, NRA supports HB 302.
Brian Judy has more testimony available on how federal laws not only infringe on the right to bear arms but on state’s rights in his Washington address on loopholes here. Brian Judy is an amazing speaker and gave solid testimony to the committee on federal infringements on the right to bear arms. And he has shown through Printz vs Supreme Court that it is the state’s responsibility to uphold the rights of their people. And, in other testimonies he has provided, he shows the same commitment to state’s rights and to the 2nd Amendment.
I am conflicted though. As I am glad the NRA provided testimony and support to House Bill 302 in Montana, I will not stand by or believe for one minute that it must take only the presence of the NRA to raise the issues on infringements of the right to bear arms. Those issues are to be raised by the people of each state. And, it is the duty of each servant who holds office to represent their people and not give up their responsibility of state sovereignty to the feds. It is the responsibility of the servants who hold office, to ring the alarm against any usurpation of the federal government clearly defined in the Constitution. To the advocates of federal supremacy, the NRA has shown up. Can we now agree that acts to preserve the second amendment is not just a state’s rights issue but also about the 2nd amendment?