“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.”
— 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights
State legislators, county sheriffs, and state governors are saying, “Enough!” Unconstitutional overreach by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., has set the stage for multiple showdowns with state and local government officials who vow to exercise their constitutional prerogatives to oppose usurpations of the federal government on issues ranging from the REAL ID Act and ObamaCare to infringements on the right to keep and bear arms.
President Obama’s release, on January 16, of his comprehensive plan for a new wave of national gun controls has made the Second Amendment the immediate flashpoint of the growing “nullification” movement in the states. Issued one month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the president’s push for firearms restrictions clearly is an attempt to capitalize on public grief over that shocking massacre to jumpstart a moribund gun-control movement that has been unable to make any recent headway in Congress. Entitled “Now is the time: The president’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence,” the 15-page White House program proposes an array of executive and congressional actions that it says are “common-sense steps to reduce gun violence.”
Liberty-minded advocates, however, were quick to point out that what President Obama refers to as common-sense proposals, our Founding Fathers would have denounced as blatant usurpations by a dictatorial executive. On January 16, the same day that President Obama released his “Now Is the Time” plan, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced that he would be introducing legislation the following week to oppose any of President Obama’s executive orders that unconstitutionally attempt to implement new national gun controls.
Appearing on Fox News with Sean Hannity, Senator Paul pointed out that there are several of the president’s executive orders “that appear as if he’s writing new law,” which would be an executive trespass on the legislative powers of Congress and a violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers. “I’m afraid that President Obama may have this ‘king complex’ sort of developing, and we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen,” he told Hannity.
Some state legislators and county sheriffs, however, are not waiting for federal legislators like Senator Paul; neither are they confident that Congress will adequately respond to President Obama’s new efforts to impose more firearms restrictions. In fact, many are concerned that Congress itself, responding to pressure from the major media and President Obama’s bully pulpit, may enact unconstitutional infringements on the Second Amendment.
Within hours of President Obama’s press conference announcing his new gun control push, state legislators in Wyoming, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Iowa, South Carolina, Indiana, and other states were initiating efforts to “nullify” any attempts by federal authorities to enforce those restrictions in their states. They are not merely talking about state resolutions expressing disapproval of federal encroachment, but actually making it a criminal offense for agents of the federal government to attempt to enforce what the states determine to be illegal, unconstitutional usurpations of power. Wyoming’s H.B. 0104, the “Firearm Protection Act,” for example, threatens federal officials with up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines if convicted of attempting to enforce unconstitutional statutes or decrees infringing on the gun rights of Wyoming citizens. Missouri and Texas have similar legislation pending.
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