Recently, we told you about a rather watered-down version of a nullification bill that Kansas passed and Governor Brownback signed. The gist of it was that federal or state agents attempting to enforce unconstitutional gun laws on Kansas-made firearms would face felony charges and prosecution. It may have been watered down, but it offended Attorney General Eric Holder enough that he had to issue a fast and furious response. Here’s what he wrote in part in a letter to the Kansas Governor:
“In purporting to override federal law and to criminalize the official acts of federal officers, SB102 directly conflicts with federal law and is therefore unconstitutional. … Under the Supremacy Clause…Kansas may not prevent federal employees and officials from carrying out their official responsibilities. And a state certainly may not criminalize the exercise of federal responsibilities. Because SB102 conflicts with federal firearms laws and regulations, federal law supercedes this new statute; all provisions of federal laws and their implementing regulations therefore continue to apply.”
First of all, where does the Constitution give the federal government the authority to regulate firearms at all? It doesn’t, and that’s why anything the feds do with respect to gun control, no matter how well-intentioned, is unconstitutional.
This is what the 10th Amendment is about: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” You can’t get much clearer than that. There is no power delegated to the federal government to regulate guns. Nor is any such law prohibited by the Constitution from being enacted by the states.
And then Holder has to bring up the Supremacy Clause. We’ve been through this many times before. He seems to think that whatever the feds do is authorized by the very nature of it being from the feds. But that’s not what the so-called Supremacy Clause says. It’s taken from Article VI of the Constitution:
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” [Emphasis mine]
We’ve already established that any federal law restricting or regulating firearms is unconstitutional, because the Constitution does not grant the feds any such authority. If the federal government is enacting laws and creating agencies in direct opposition to what the Constitution says, they’re the ones in violation. They’re the ones that are unconstitutional.
And since the Constitution doesn’t grant these authorities to the feds, and since it doesn’t prohibit states from enacting these laws, on the matter of gun control, the states are sovereign.
And on top of that, the 2nd Amendment says “shall not be infringed.” So the feds are completely wrong on all accounts.
Governor Brownback responded to Holder (in part):
“The right to keep and bear arms is a right that Kansans hold dear. It is a right enshrined not only in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, but also protected by the Kansas Bill of Rights…The people of Kansas have repeatedly and overwhelmingly reaffirmed their commitment to protecting this fundamental right. The people of Kansas are likewise committed to defending the sovereignty of the State of Kansas as guaranteed in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution…”
Right now, Governor Brownback needs encouragement not to back down from the feds. He can be reached here by e-mail. Kansans can reach him at 785-296-3232. And here’s his address:
Office of the Governor
Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave., Ste. 241S
Topeka, KS 66612-1590