Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and Meltdown (on the financial crisis). A senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News, FOX Business, C-SPAN, Bloomberg Television, and hundreds of radio programs... (Read More)

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Gun Regulation Nullification in Wyoming

10th January 2013      by: Tom Woods     

A “Firearm Protection Acthas just been filed in the Wyoming House, by lead sponsors Kendell Kroeker and Allen Jaggi. The new bill strengthens 2010′s Firearm Freedom Act (which was introduced by Rep. Jaggi); at this link the new proposed language is red, and the blue is what is being struck out. In short, the measure spells out exactly what kind of federal activity Wyoming will not permit to be carried out — namely, anything involving the regulation of guns owned or manufactured in Wyoming and which remains exclusively within the borders of Wyoming. See all its provisions here.

A key figure propelling this bill is Anthony Bouchard, who runs Wyoming Gun Owners, which does so much of the legwork behind initiatives like this. (Readers of my blog may be interested in this item from about a year ago, when Bouchard noted that the only GOP presidential candidate even to answer their Presidential Gun Rights Survey was Ron Paul.)

Unlearn the Propaganda!

  • Anonymous

    Tom, have you published a “Nullification Handbook” pamphlet?

    I think you should. Get together with a couple of lawyers, and other historians, and make a little how-to guide.

    The audience would be the public of course – not to detract from your book sales – and this pamphlet could raise awareness of getting involved locally, and how real and meaningful political battles of federal scope can be won at the local level. Nullification can and has served both right and left wing interests.

    The more important audience for this pamphlet would be state legislatures.

    Nullification, I find to be a legitimate exercise of state power, serving the intent of the Constitution. Many people DISagree. Establishing the precedent of federal tolerance of nullification is critical, because the alternative may be political violence by the central state against local power. National awareness of and support for nullification would represent a sea change, and so there really should be consistency between all the states’ nullification efforts.

    That said, Wyoming clearly is employing the principles of nullification. My concern is whether they are employing the proper language of nullification.

    It would be nice if each state nullification effort included consistent language that spelled out a basic summary of the Virginia and Kentucky resolution language. Something something constitution superior to federal power something federal government can’t be sole interpreter of its own power something something state finds federal law to be in specific violation of constitution citing [relevant passage].

    This way any opposition to nullification will have to address the specific argument, rather than some technical appeal to the supremacy of federal law and precedent.

    This would also prevent states from simply refusing to follow federal laws they just happen to not like. While that would be a fine, proud, and courageous act, it would also lead to political suppression.

  • David

    As President I would in no way make this situation an issue. The 2nd Amendment is there to make sure the Constitution is not disregarded by a Government run rogue. I will make sure we return to the original Government the Constitution requires in 2016. Support me as your President in 2016 and all this unconstitutional activity will end. I will give an Executive Order to remove all who have not upheld their oath to defend the Constitution.and deport them if need be taking away their citizenship. Visit my site http://www.facebook.com/DWSmithPresident2016 if you want our Nation back. I am a true defender of the Constitution.

  • Don Wills

    IMO, consistency of legalese among the states’ nullification laws, whether guns or Obamacare or whatever, is not particularly important. What IS really important is to get such a law tested through the federal courts to the US Supreme Court. They will probably rule against nullification, although one never knows. Even if they do rule against nullification, it may go down in US history along with Dred Scott and other bad opinions. Or it might be first step towards a breakup of the USA (think USSR – it doesn’t have to be bloody). One never knows the result unless one steps up to the plate and swings.

  • Anonymous

    I think the whole point of Nullification is to side-step the federal government.

    “The United States” is the political society comprised of the federal government in Washington, the States, and the people at large. It is established by the Constitution of the United States.

    The idea here is to establish, via de facto precedent, not de jure precedent, a role for state governments in enforcing constitutional boundaries against federal power.

    This is something that just has to happen. And to become precedent, federal officers need to defer to state actions. A court challenge would be the worst outcome. This is the whole point: that the states don’t need any federal permission to protect their citizens from the unconstitutional activities of that government.

    Take Obamacare, the court upheld the law, not the principle. A state can argue: this court has, for political reasons, misinterpreted what’s really going on here, and that this is an unconstitutional principle enforced in federal law. So we will not allow this law to be enforced in our state.

    Then, federal officers decide: do we send in the national guard and arrest the government of this state, or do we sort of admit that the people are really against this and the state has made a compelling, yet rare argument?

    You don’t want this to be a common situation. Instead, you want the federal government to concede the first few times, and then it becomes precedent. As long as states employ nullification sparingly and properly – and CONSISTENTLY, that precedent can remain in force.

  • Franklin

    “Then, federal officers decide: do we send in the national guard and arrest the government of this state, or do we sort of admit that the people are really against this…”

    Not to rain on the parade, as a supporter of nullification, but there are many avenues for the Feds, including withholding of state aid (which was stolen in the first place of course). And the state officers will wilt like water-starved lilies. You’ll need critical mass, and I don’t mean just 50% plus one vote. Again, not being a naysayer, just a realist who places little faith in the testicular fortitude of state pols.

  • Anonymous

    If they withhold state aid, then the state would have a good argument against allowing IRS officers into the state. Depending, that might garner substantial support.

    But you are right, there isn’t enough support for the idea in any state. But maybe with a pamphlet educating the public at large you could get a Wyoming or even a Texas to come on board.

    The point is, if the nullification argument is made well enough, the federal government might realize that they can save face without a showdown. They could argue that the state really believed that a law really was really unconstitutional, and that their exercise of nullification is very specific and will be rare, and so they would feel comfortable letting the state have its way.

    If the states just start haphazardly opposing federal law, you might have severe crackdowns (non-violent perhaps).

  • Scott Weisman

    It is always nice to set a precedent towards greater freedom. I am curious though. Does Wyoming have a native firearms industry, or is this more bluster than anything else? Would a native industry develop? The state government would be in its rights to bar any federal activity on guns, period. But that would take a lot more courage than even the most liberty-oriented state government probably possesses.

  • Don Wills

    Actually the existing Wyoming FFA law protects Wyoming manufactured, sold and possessed semi-auto firearms and accessories from federal regulation. It has never been tested.

    This new bill would expand that definition to include Wyoming citizen OWNED firearms (regardless of where manufactured or sold).

    The only gun manufacturer in Wyoming is Freedom Arms which makes several models of very expensive, long barreled revolvers.

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