A Tapestry of Issues for the Tenth Amendment
The Tenth Amendment, for those who need reminding, reads as follows:
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
It’s conceivable that a partial explanation for the states’ permitting the erosion of this protection may be found in the ideological diversity of the nation. Massachusetts may not have much interest in protecting Texan sodomy laws that it finds extreme, and South Dakota would have no direct interest in protecting Rhode Island’s shoreline rights.
Travis Kavulla’s National Review article on Montana’s enthusiasm for the Second Amendment, however, makes me wonder whether it would be possible to knit together a Tenth Amendment revival on a patchwork of issues:
LONG has Montana been enthusiastic on the subject of guns, but the Montana Firearms Freedom Act takes the cake.
Passed this spring by the state legislature, a group of folks who meet for 90 days every other year, the law declares that any weapon or round of ammunition made in Montana and remaining within state borders “is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.” This bold declaration of independence became law October 1, though even before then the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms had sent out a memorandum to gun dealers, the summary of which was: Don’t even think about it. A lawsuit is pending.
A nearly identical piece of legislation had been defeated in the 2005 and 2007 sessions of the legislature, but this year a groundswell of public anxiety about federal regulation of guns led to votes that were not even close. The act won passage 85-14 in the house and 29-21 in the senate, with many Democrats–most of them town-dwelling folk–lining up behind their country brothers and voting “yea.”
The commerce clause is one of the chief mechanisms whereby the federal government has expanded its power over the states, and one needn’t believe as heartily in the right to bear arms as the typical Montanan to be able to find some local issue that piques one’s anger. A concerted movement might be able to find an issue in each of the fifty states that could spur similar legislation.