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How to Get the Federal Government Out of the Gun Control Business July 28, 2008

Posted by federalist in Natural Rights, RKBA.
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If we accept the more liberal “states’ rights” interpretation of the Second Amendment, which is that it only forbids the federal government from interfering with the militia rights of states, doesn’t that interpretation nullify most of the gun control currently practiced by the federal government? For example:

1. The National Firearms Act (NFA) requires the taxation and registration of any transfer of broad classes of firearms and accessories (e.g., machine guns and many other devices commonly used by the military) — even when the transfer is between individuals in the same state. How can the federal government regulate the disposition of militia arms within a state without interfering with that state’s right to regulate its militia?

2. The Gun Control Act (GCA) forbids a private citizen from acquiring a machine gun that was not registered privately prior to 1986. What if a state wants its citizens to be able to purchase new machine guns for militia service?

3. The NFA forbids the importation of Class III devices (which includes non-weapon accessories like suppressors) for purchase by private citizens. Again, doesn’t this infringe the right of states to regulate their militia? Is there an established theory by which the Commerce Clause legitimately supercedes the Second Amendment?

4. The Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 (which expired in 2004) further restricted the importation and sale of a wider class of weapons and accessories to “non law enforcement” personnel. Could states circumvent such restrictions by simply designating every “able-bodied adult” a member of their constitutionally protected militia? (And doesn’t the U.S. Code already make that designation?)

5. The federal government prohibits individuals from bearing arms in many locations outside of the District of Columbia — e.g., national parks, “federal” buildings within the states, airports. Is it clear that it has authority to do this in spite of the Second Amendment?

After extensive research I found this 1995 essay by Reynolds and Kates that addresses many of these questions, and which concludes that under the states’ rights interpretation “most federal firearms laws would not be applicable to citizens covered by state militia laws–though no doubt the federal government would retain the power to outlaw weapons obviously unsuited for militia use such as derringers, wallet-guns, umbrella-guns, and sawed-off shotguns.”

[F]ederal gun control laws could, in effect, be nullified by state legislation that requires militia members to possess banned weapons–legislation that might well reach a majority of the state’s population.

Many people are unhappy with the U.S. Supreme Court’s confirmation of the “individual right” interpretation of the Second Amendment in D.C. v. Heller.  Just to make sure we’ve got all the bases covered, let’s encourage the states to assert their Second Amendment rights by nullifying the NFA and GCA!

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Comments»

1. ReasonableCitizen - July 29, 2008

Excellent beginning! It would appear that the States should have the right to define the weaponry of their militia and their police forces without federal interference.
What is the likelihood that the federal government could assert property rights over the federal lands in western states and set rules separate from the States control? Just curious.

R. Ausen - July 27, 2011

I am for the Government getting out of gun control. This gun control issue all started back in 1968. Oh, it may have begun earlier under Roosevelt with the banning of offensive weapons but we won’t go back that far. President Johnson, who was smack dab in the middle of an investigation ( Billy Sol Estees and Bobby Baker for bribes, corruption, embezzelment and murder), saw to it that the Gun Control Act was passed in 1968. LBJ made it very clear that had their been strickt laws about acquiring firearms thru the mail, that Lee Harvey Oswald never would have gotten his hands on a rifle. However, Lee Harvey Oswald never Killed JFK or officer Tippit and so began the administration of Governmental control up to and thru this current day. Had LBJ been charged and convicted of the above mentioned allegations, we would never be looking at the Gun Control Act of 1968. However, thru his shananigans, JFK was eliminated of which he had full foreknowledge. Now we have gun laws on the books of which the American People don’t even care for. These gun laws are meant for the Government to gain 100% control over the people so the government may achieve their desired goal: Total Control!


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