Raising the bar for Nullification
by Michael Boldin
Around the country, twenty two states are currently considering a bill known as the “Firearms Freedom Act.” This bill declares that guns, accessories, and ammunition made within a state, sold within that state and kept in that state are not subject to federal laws or regulations under the “Interstate Commerce Clause” of the Constitution.
Montana and Tennessee passed a Firearms Freedom Act into law in 2009, and a number of states are moving that direction in the 2010 legislative session. In South Carolina, where a Firearms Freedom Act was also introduced in 2009, some representatives have taken things a step further.
NULLIFYING GUN REGISTRATIONS
Introduced in the South Carolina General Assembly this week is House Bill 4509 (H4509), which if passed, would make law that “no public official of any jurisdiction may require registration of purchasers of firearms or ammunition within the boundaries of this State.”
No caveat for regulations under the commerce clause. No caveat for types of firearms either. This bill says NO to all gun registrations – period.
The principle behind such legislation is nullification, which has a long history in the American tradition.
In the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote in response to the hated Alien and Sedition Acts:
“The several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government”
“where powers are assumed [by the federal government] which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them”
In short, nullification means this: The state is taking a position that a particular federal law is unconstitutional, and thus, 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 that state is concerned. MORE