WEAPONS OF CHOICE
'As you may know, federal law … supersedes the act'
By Bob Unruh
Federal gun regulators have written to gun dealers around Tennessee, dropping the hammer on a new state law that exempts weapons made, sold and used inside the state from interstate regulations.
The letter, dated just days ago, was distributed to holders of Federal Firearms Licenses.
In it, Carson W. Carroll, the assistant director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told dealers the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act, adopted this year, "purports to exempt personal firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition manufactured in the state, and which remain in the state, from most federal firearms laws and regulations."
The exemption is not right, the federal agency letter contends.
"As you may know, federal law requires a license to engage in the business of manufacturing firearms or ammunition, or to deal in firearms, even if the firearms or ammunition remain with the same state," the letter said. "All firearms manufactured by a licensee must be properly marked. Additionally, each licensee must record the type, model, caliber or gauge, and serial number of each firearm manufactured or otherwise acquired, and the date such manufacture or other acquisition was made.
"These, as well as other federal requirements and prohibitions, apply whether or not the firearms or ammunition have crossed state lines," the letter said.
The law was adopted by the state Legislature this year. It provides that "federal laws and regulations do not apply to personal firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition that is manufactured in Tennessee and remains in Tennessee." It also carries exemptions for certain types of weapons and ammunition and the requirement that all firearms made or sold in the state have "Made in Tennessee" on them.
Tennessee is not the first state to move in this direction. WND reported earlier that Utah was considering such a plan, and the state of Montana earlier adopted its own gun exemption procedure.
Montana's bill provides that guns, ammo, accessories, silencers and other products made, sold and used in the state would not require any federal documentation, registration, serial numbers, records check or waiting period.
The pushback from the states comes at a time when the federal administration is replete with anti-gun activists in influential positions, including an attorney general, Eric Holder, who supported a complete handgun ban in the District of Columbia before it was tossed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Obama administration has even pushed for a treaty that would require sportsmen who reload their ammunition to obtain a federal license.
The Montana plan cites the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that "guarantees to the states and their people all powers not granted to the federal government elsewhere in the Constitution and reserves to the state and people of Montana certain powers as they were understood at the time that Montana was admitted to statehood in 1889."
"The guaranty of those powers is a matter of contract between the state and people of Montana and the United States as of the time that the compact with the United States was agreed upon and adopted by Montana and the United States in 1889," the Montana plan states.
"The regulation of intrastate commerce is vested in the states under the 9th and 10th amendments to the United States Constitution, particularly if not expressly pre-empted by federal law. Congress has not expressly pre-empted state regulation of intrastate commerce pertaining to the manufacture on an intrastate basis of firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition," it says.
Further, state lawmakers cite the Second Amendment right of the people to "keep and bear arms as that right was understood at the time that Montana was admitted to statehood in 1889."
The Tennessee plan includes many of the same arguments.
The Tennessee Gun Owners website includes this comment: "And the battle begins. I don't believe this was unexpected. According to the 10th Amendment, the state has authority. Tennessee is applying its constitutional rights. The feds are saying, no, the Constitution doesn't count. Calling all lawyers!"
In Montana, a Democrat governor signed the gun exemption law; in Tennessee, a Democrat governor allowed the gun exemptions to become law without his signature.
At Resistnet.com, there was a discussion among hundreds of members who have stated their willingness to bring a lawsuit against the federal government over the issue.
"The sovereign state of Tennessee should stand her ground. If people would stand up to the bully (Big Brother) we might take back some of the rights that have been stolen from us. It will not be comfortable. It will not be easy. But, it can be done, if we want it bad enough," said one participant.
One other was a little less eloquent, but his message came through.
"This is a crock! This is a free state and it's time to tell the thieves in Washington to butt out."
About three dozen states have begun working on such plans.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin signed House Joint Resolution just days ago. It "claims sovereignty for the state under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States."
The joint resolution does not carry the force of law, but supporters say it is a significant move toward getting their message out to other lawmakers, the media and grassroots movements.
While seven states – Tennessee, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Alaska and Louisiana – have had both houses of their legislatures pass similar decrees, Palin signed Alaska's Tenth Amendment declaration and Tennessee's governor signed that state's Tenth Amendment declaration of sovereignty.