State Nullification Of Federal Gun Laws

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

Montana needs a new Governor:

Score one for modernity. Earlier this week, Montana’s legislature passed a nullification bill—a piece of legislation which would have forbidden Big Sky law enforcement from enforcing any new assault weapons ban or ban on high capacity magazines. Steve Bullock, the state’s Democratic governor, announced today that he was vetoing the bill, in part on the grounds that it is “unnecessary political theater.” (That would be because it aimed to nullify laws that don’t even exist yet.)

Nullification—the notion that states can negate federal laws they deem to be unconstitutional—is a doctrine dating to the 19th century that has repeatedly found itself on the wrong side of history, the courts, and the Constitution. And yet it continues to retain mystifying currency on the right, especially among state lawmakers.

The author’s prose is irrelevant and it doesn’t go down as recommended reading or a useful expenditure of your time.  But Milo Townsend gives us a nice rebuttal in the comments.

Firstly, the notion of states nullifying unconstitutional federal Acts dates to the 18th, not the 19th century – none other than both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison urged nullification of President Adams’ Alien & Sedition Acts in 1798 in the first formal political expositions on nullification in U.S. history, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions.

Second, the doctrine of nullification is not only explicitly sanctioned by the Tenth amendment of the United States Constitution, but is integrally built in to the essential structure of the entire federal charter.

Milo then gives us a link to his article on understanding nullification.  It’s all good and studied prose and does go down as recommended reading and a useful expenditure of your time.  The money quote follows.

The fact is, that in order to see why “We, the People of the several States,” are perfectly in line with the Constitution when we undertake to judge of the constitutionality of the actions and decisions of any branch of the federal government, we need only to open our eyes first to the rationale that gave us our government in the first place. Once we imbibe a sobering dose of that tonic prescribed by our founding physicians, “a frequent recurrence to the fundamental principles of liberty,” it will be evident – dare we say even “self-evident?” – that if our government is truly grounded in republican principles, and is truly a government “of the people, by the people,” then there can be no alternative except to recognize our own responsibility in making such judgments. It is our sovereignty, as free individuals, which gives legitimacy to any power of our system of government, at any level, including the power to undertake constitutional arbitration and interpretation; such powers, then, are therefore ours in primacy, and are only lent to our representatives conditionally. They can, thus, be withdrawn, resumed, or re-delegated at any time by us, the sovereign authorities within this federal republic. In short, the question of whether we, the people, may undertake to judge of the limits and powers of our own federal government is obviously and unequivocally, “Yes!”

And thus does Milo give us the philosophical and historical underpinnings of our republic and the right to hold the federal government accountable my more means than a simple vote.  I have attempted to supply the theological underpinnings in previous articles.

So I have recommended numerous times that (a) the states arrest federal agents who enforce federal gun laws, (b) the states confiscate and destroy form 4473s in every gun shop in their respective states and order the owner to inform them if any ATF agent visits the store or attempts to arrests the owner, (c) the states place arrested federal agents in with the general prison population and prosecute them to the fullest extent of state law, (d) the states stop any additional federal agents from entering the state and forbid any federal agents from in any way assisting those arrested federal agents, and (e) the states enforce the laws of the states – including nullification – with the power of the National Guard or unorganized militia if necessary against the federal government.

If readers have seen this as boisterous chest-thumping, you have misunderstood it completely.  My recommendations are serious.  Furthermore, there is justification for such actions, theologically, philosophically and historically.

  • Inquiring Minds

    Not disagreeing, but your proposed actions would be viewed by the Feds in same manner as firing on Ft Sumter; and would likely initiate a similar response.

    BHO may be looking for a reason to declare martial law.
    On the other hand, that is looking more and more likely in any case.

  • HempRopeAndStreetlight

    Let the feds view it that way. There is not going to BE a peaceful solution to this – the statists won’t stop until we kill enough of them that they slink back into their holes.

    We either wipe them out or they wipe us out. That’s life.

    They mean to have a war then so be it. Let’s see how long they can keep the lights and water on in their little ProgNazi cities.

  • http://biophilic.blogspot.com Burk

    Hi, C Journal-

    You may have forgotten that there is a process to “undertake constitutional arbitration and interpretation”. Which is the federal constitutional amendment process. The process provides for altering our government in any way we wish, but doing it as a unified body so that we don’t have yahoos forming their own interpretations and states, either in ignorance or in rebellion. When states enter the union, it is a one-way street, pending a rather fundamental revision of the federal constitution. If you don’t like it, move to Mexico.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    ” … it is a one way street.”

    And thus did Burk not listen or understand a word that has been written.

    Poor, ignorant Burk. Do try to read more. Yahoo.

  • Josh

    Oh god it’s Burk again with his platitudes. Go away.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Well, understand him. He doesn’t comprehend the prose above because his god is his state. He has no other ethos or ideological moorings other than man at the helm. He has answered the Platonic / Socratic question of the “one and the many” in favor of one. Thus my appeal to a morality greater than the state is epistemologically foreign to him. It makes no sense.

  • http://www.gunvaluesboard.com/amr/blog amr

    “the states enforce the laws of the states – including nullification – with the power of the National Guard or unorganized militia if necessary against the federal government.” Chief Kessler’s Constitutional Security Force would do that via the county sheriff or local police chief. Thus a blue state could have areas nullifying state and federal laws as in MD or NY. Seeing the full weight of the state and federal officials descending on a county to enforce unconstitutional laws might spark a nationwide revolt against big government. And as was stated by others, BHO might use that to declare martial law, and then the stuff would really hit the fan.

  • scott s.

    During the nullification crisis, President Jackson sent his VP, Martin Van Buren, to New York. Jackson and Van Buren had worked out a position on nullification which Van Buren communicated via a committee report to the New York legislature. The report was approved as a resolution and is worth reading as an “anti-nullification” argument. The report and other state resolutions were collected and published as the “State Papers on Nullification” in 1834 and can be found on line. Recommended reading. I think in a nutshell, it argues that “nullification” exists only as a collective state action under Article V.


You are currently reading "State Nullification Of Federal Gun Laws", entry #10465 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Federal Firearms Laws and was published March 28th, 2013 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (675)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (28)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (6)
Ammunition (13)
Animals in War (4)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
AR-15s (36)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (34)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (26)
Australian Army (5)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (44)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (15)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (4)
Body Armor (16)
Books (2)
Border War (6)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (25)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (1)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (5)
CIA (12)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (214)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (114)
Department of Homeland Security (9)
Disaster Preparedness (2)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (5)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (1)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (1)
Featured (160)
Federal Firearms Laws (14)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (250)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (14)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (38)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (192)
Guns (540)
Guns In National Parks (2)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (7)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (11)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (13)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (33)
India (10)
Infantry (3)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (22)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (378)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (33)
Islamists (37)
Israel (17)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (71)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (8)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (2)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (2)
Lawfare (6)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (1)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (11)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (7)
Logistics (47)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (229)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (22)
Memorial Day (2)
Mexican Cartels (20)
Mexico (24)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (3)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (3)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (10)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (13)
NATO (15)
Navy (19)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (1)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (53)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (205)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (17)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Police (105)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (134)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (73)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (74)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (27)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (136)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (22)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (17)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Survival (9)
SWAT Raids (48)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (1)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (16)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (86)
Thanksgiving (4)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (10)
TSA Ineptitude (10)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (4)
U.S. Border Security (11)
U.S. Sovereignty (13)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (2)
Uncategorized (38)
Universal Background Check (2)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (210)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (2)
War Reporting (18)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (5)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (57)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (11)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2014 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.