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Federalism Showdown Looms Over Gun Control July 21, 2009

Posted by federalist in Federalism, RKBA.
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Montana and Tennessee recently passed “Firearms Freedom Act” laws declaring that most firearms manufactured and traded within their respective states are exempt from federal gun laws and regulations.  The most significant implications of these state acts:

  • Federal Firearms Licenses are not required to manufacture or sell locally manufactured guns.
  • Locally manufactured silencers, short-barrelled guns, and man-portable smokeless-powder guns with bore diameters up to 1.5″ are exempt from NFA tax and registration.  Presumably “Any Other Weapon” devices are also NFA-exempt.
  • However, explosive ammunition and fully-automatic firearms are not protected by the Firearms Freedom Acts, and therefore still subject to the federal NFA and GCA.

Last week the BATFE sent letters to Federal Firearms Licensees in both states asserting that these Firearms Freedom Acts do not exempt licensees from any federal requirements.

Granted, there could be an administrative detente to this standoff:  When someone decides to obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL) they are voluntarily submitting to federal regulations.  Therefore, a separate network of non-FFL manufacturer and dealer entities could stand up to deal in state-protected Firearms Freedom Act items.  In that case the BATFE would have to take the aggressive step of barging in on individuals engaged in state-sanctioned activity to assert that it has jurisdiction over them.  Hopefully the states will resist such an intrusion on their sovereignty.

[Update: FirearmsFreedomAct.com is serving as a clearinghouse for news on this sovereignty movement.]

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