2A Resources

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Contrary to popular belief, this is not a gun permit. The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to define the limits of federal authority. The Second Amendment doesn’t give anyone the right to own a gun. It simply prohibits the federal government from interfering with this pre-existing natural right.

History shows this to be the only possible interpretation of this amendment. The Constitution prohibits the federal government from encroaching on Americans’ right to own firearms. Period.

This statement, simple though it may be, is often controversial today since many politicians at the federal level consistently ignore any constitutional restrictions on their own power. The Second Amendment is no exception. They have increasingly ramped up their rhetoric regarding firearms restrictions, providing a clear indication of their intention to further ignore constitutional limitations in this arena as well.

Gun Laws Violate Another Amendment

But in attempting to restrict the ownership of firearms, federal politicians buck not only the Second Amendment but also the Tenth Amendment, which reads, “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.”

This means that unless the Constitution explicitly gives the federal government the power to take a specific action or perform a specific function it clearly, by any rational reading of the Constitution, does not have that power.

The implication of these two amendment, taken together, is that the federal government is doubly prohibited to act in any way that limits the right to keep and bear arms. Not only does the Constitution not give any power to the federal government to do this, but it explicitly prohibits any such actions. Quite simply, the federal government has no authority in this matter.

The States’ Role in Preserving Firearm Rights

But we all know that the federal government does not always follow its own laws. Since federal politicians appear to have no interest in maintaining the Constitution, that responsibility must fall somewhere else – to the state governments. The states can do this by refusing compliance with unconstitutional federal gun laws for, as Alexander Hamilton said, “The laws of Congress are restricted to a certain sphere, and when they depart from this sphere, they are no longer supreme or binding.”

The states have the constitutional authority to determine if a federal law is unconstitutional. If a federal law is unconstitutional, it is not supreme, and the states have at least a coequal role in determining whether or not a law is constitutional.  So, what should a state’s response to unconstitutional laws be?  It should be to resist them and to refuse compliance with their enforcement, regardless of what federal politicians, bureaucrats or even judges say.

Specifically regarding federal gun laws, the states should explicitly say that no federal gun laws will be recognized in the state and will be considered null and void.

Nullification: A Constitutional Doctrine

As foreign a concept this might seem to be, this is not some radical new doctrine that was invented by 21st Century ideologues.  It flows from the very structure of the Constitution, which clearly delineates the scope of the federal government’s powers.  The Constitution was designed in such a way that, as founding father Roger Sherman said, “when the government of the United States…interferes with the rights of the State governments they will be powerful enough to check it.”

Hamilton elaborated on this point when he said that any “acts of the (federal government) which are not pursuant to its constitutional powers…will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such.”

State laws to this effect are not only entirely constitutional, they cut to the very heart of the primary function of those legislative bodies.

The Duty of State Lawmakers

Legislators always explain their primary job description as protecting their constituents.  But, this means more than merely considering legislation on the key issues of the day. It more fundamentally means protecting their citizens from tyranny.

It is ultimately the responsibility of the state governments to ensure that their citizens are protected from federal overreach. It is the state legislators that decide policy for their citizens. If the people of a state desire more or less restrictions on firearms, it is the state governments that should make that decision in accordance with the laws of their own state. If state laws are to be changed, it is state legislators that are tasked with changing them.

In matters pertaining to both policy and the preservation of our freedom, it is the state representative’s responsibility as the the unique representatives of the people of their state to undertake these matters.