HELENA, Mont. -- If Montana has its way in a lawsuit filed Thursday, there will be far less federal gun control in the state.
The state's libertarian streak--which has spawned efforts to buck the federal Real ID Act and sparked widespread contempt for the Patriot Act--is now triggering a fight over whether Montana should have sovereignty over made-in-Montana guns and equipment.
If gun advocates win, the state could decide which rules, if any, would control the manufacturer, sale and purchase of guns and paraphernalia. And Montana would be exempt from rules on federal gun registration, background checks and dealer-licensing.
"For guns, it means we can make our own in Montana and sell them in Montana as long as they are stamped 'Made in Montana' and don't leave the state," said Gary Marbut, who runs the Montana Shooting Sports Association and is leading the lawsuit. "We will be able to do that without federal regulation, or having the ATF breath down your neck."
The association, joined by the Second Amendment Foundation in the lawsuit, hopes to ultimately win a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limits the application and reach of federal rules over state business. The suit is challenging the right of the federal government to oversee gun sales under the guise of interstate commerce regulation.
This is wonderful news. Once upon a time, the federal government did not dare to overstep its bounds and usurp the authority of the individual states, as spelled out in the Constitution, specifically the 10th Amendment:
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.Then came FDR and the search for a way around the Constitution in order to expand federal power and control everything from Washington D.C. It was found in the interstate commerce clause. This clause was used as a pretext to, in effect, overturn the 10th amendment, make it pointless. Their willing accomplices in the Supreme Court at the time shamelessly aided and abetted them in this virtual coup. The interstate commerce clause has since been the pretext by which the federal government has usurped the sovereignty of the individual states in a whole host of areas.
Understand that much of what Washington has done over the last 80 years would have been considered unconstitutional by the framers of the Constitution, and while some of them warned that this sort of thing might eventually happen (the anti-federalists, for example), others of them believed that there were enough safeguards to ensure that it would not (the federalists). All of them would be appalled at what Washington has become.
But the last few months have brought us the rumblings of a coming storm. Some of the states have had enough and are starting to push back. We saw this when a few governors spoke out against the stimulus bill and threatened to turn down funds allocated to their states because of the controlling strings which were attached. Here in Texas we have heard this kind of anti-Washington-control rhetoric from our governor Rick Perry, who is moving swiftly to the right in an attempt to secure the Republican nomination for another term as governor in the face of stiff opposition from Kay Bailey Hutchison. Now we have Montana deliberately pushing back against the machine. It could not come at a better time. Let us hope for the best.
I will keep you posted.