The Tenth Amendment movement sweeping across the nation has made its way to the Beehive State. The Utah-Made Firearm Act states that all firearms, firearm accessories, and “ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in the state to be used or sold within the state [of Utah] is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.” The bill, SB11, was signed by Utah Governor Herbert Cary on February 26 after passing through the state legislature in a near-party line vote.
SB11 is part of a series of similiar Firearms Freedom Acts (FFA) that have also been passed in Montana and Tennessee and introduced in other states. The FFA openly challenges the federal contention that it has the authority to regulate firearms under the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, by declaring that any firearms made and retained in-state are beyond the authority of Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states.
Utah State Senator Margaret Dayton explained the motivation behind SB11 and other 10th Amendment legislation. “The federal overreach is out of control…. That tyrannical overreach is what we’re trying to stop with this bill … [and the passage of SB11] illustrates the universal yearning for freedom and shows the people still feel the spark that inspired our ancestors at Lexington and Valley Forge. My hope is that the march toward tyranny can be turned back with our votes.”
Opponents of the bill and similar state sovereignty legislation argue that such legislation would never be found to be constitutional by federal courts. According to retired University of Utah law professor John Flynn, “It would really be quite ridiculous of the [Supreme Court] to even take a case like this…. You’d have huge impact across the federal code.” Flynn considers SB11 and similar legislation “asinine” because they ignore Supreme Court precedent that interprets the interstate commerce clause into an almost unlimited grant of regulatory power to Congress.