Saturday, 15 March 2014 14:45

Idaho Latest State to Stand Against Federal Assault on Gun Rights

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Idaho may soon become the latest state to stand up to the Obama administration’s attempt to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

Earlier this week, the state House of Representatives approved a pro-gun-rights bill already passed by the state Senate. The measure now awaits action by Governor Butch Otter.

The published purpose of SB 1332, the Idaho Federal Firearm, Magazine and Register Ban Enforcement Act, makes clear the intent of state lawmakers:

This legislation is to protect Idaho law enforcement officers from being directed, through federal orders, laws, rules, or regulations enacted or promulgated on or after January 1, 2014, to violate their oath of office and Idaho citizens' rights under the Idaho Constitution, Article 1, Section 11. This Constitutional provision disallows confiscation of firearms except those actually used in commission of a felony, and disallows other restrictions on a lawful citizen's right to own firearms and ammunition.

The State Affairs Committee,the listed author of the bill, was right to point out the state’s right to refuse to executive unconstitutional demands of the federal government. The authors understood that states are constitutionally, legally, and historically on solid ground when they hold these usurpations as null, void, and of no legal effect. That state governments have the power to take this tack with regard to unconstitutional acts of the federal government, the Founders were universally agreed, as I have explained in earlier articles.

In The Federalist, No. 33, Alexander Hamilton wrote:

But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the large society which are not pursuant to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such.

He restated that principle in a later letter, No. 78:

There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.

James Madison, also writing in The Federalist Papers, recommended that state legislators, in order to prevent federal abridgment of fundamental liberties, should refuse “to co-operate with the officers of the Union.”

Speaking during the War of 1812, Daniel Webster said:

The operation of measures thus unconstitutional and illegal ought to be prevented by a resort to other measures which are both constitutional and legal. It will be the solemn duty of the State governments to protect their own authority over their own militia, and to interpose between their citizens and arbitrary power. These are among the objects for which the State governments exist.

In the Kentucky Resolution of 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.

Finally, founding era jurist Joseph Story described the Second Amendment’s critical check on tyranny:

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

Recently, three states have recently passed Second Amendment-protecting bills: Arizona, Missouri, and Idaho. Last year, Kansas passed a bill nullifying the federal assault on gun ownership and the action drew the ire of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed the bill in April 2013 and Holder immediately called him to the carpet, or at least tried to.

Holder sent a letter to Brownback informing him that the Obama administration would ignore a new Kansas law nullifying federal gun control laws. Furthermore, Holder warned the governor that federal agents would “take all appropriate actions” to enforce federal gun control laws, calling the Kansas statute “unconstitutional.”

In a response to Holder's letter sent on May 2 of last year, Brownback defended his state’s right to protect its citizens’ right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

“The right to keep and bear arms is a right that Kansans hold dear. It is a right enshrined not only in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, but also protected by the Kansas Bill of Rights,” Brownback wrote. “The people of Kansas have repeatedly and overwhelmingly reaffirmed their commitment to protecting this fundamental right. The people of Kansas are likewise committed to defending the sovereignty of the State of Kansas as guaranteed in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”

In spite of Holder’s tough talk and threats of federal invasion, Judge Andrew Napolitano reckons federal gun control laws and regulations would be “nearly impossible to enforce” if states would stand their ground.

Idaho is trying and activists are noticing. The Tenth Amendment Center’s national communication director Mike Maherry praised the Gem State legislature in a blog post:

This is an important first step for Idaho. Getting this law passed will ensure that any new plans or executive orders that might be coming our way will not be enforced in Idaho. Then, once this method is established and shown to be effective, legislators can circle back and start doing the same for federal gun control already on the books. SB1332 is an important building block for protecting the 2nd Amendment in Idaho.

To Idaho’s credit, on April 11, 2013, Governor Otter signed into law the “Preserving Freedom From Unwanted Surveillance Act,” an act reinforcing the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

The law amended the Idaho code, placing new restrictions on the use of drones by government or law enforcement, particularly when it comes to the gathering of evidence and surveillance of private property.

Such laudable legislative acts are critical and urgent, particularly in the case of the fundamental liberties protected by the Second and Fourth Amendments.


Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels nationwide speaking on nullification, the Second Amendment, the surveillance state, and other constitutional issues.  Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


  • Comment Link Tionico Monday, 17 March 2014 21:16 posted by Tionico

    oh and I almost forgot about the rapidly growing number of states telling the Feds to go fly a kite on marijuana prohibition..... I think its approaching half of them.

  • Comment Link Tionico Monday, 17 March 2014 21:15 posted by Tionico

    Michael Dalene, you DO have a valid point. BUT.. as the number of states nullifying and interposing on single issues increaases, the tide will turn. Consider how Gov. Brownback in Kansas was not intimidated by Holder. THAT right there is major progress. A number of states have done away with Mother May I permits for concealed carry. I think its now seven which have declared FedGov have NO SAY on guns manufactured, sold, and kept within their borders. Several states are now at work to dump Common Core, and a few have passed increasingly strict laws restricting abortion in some instances, and that no public funds would pay for any. Some states have risen up and declared they will take illegal immigration and enforce the laws. Several states, Texas notably amongst them, have passed, and enforced against Holder's say so, Voter ID laws. SO, for now its one significant issue at a time... but the tide IS turning. Five years ago almost none of this had happened.. ever. Jury Nullification is also gaining ground... a few rather high profile cases of late have been likely instances of this. I'll take the winnings two bits at a time rather than the nothing we've had for so long.

  • Comment Link Michael Dalene Monday, 17 March 2014 19:44 posted by Michael Dalene

    STATE NULLIFICATION IS A JOKE if the States are to "pick and Choose" which presumptive "laws?" they will allow and which they will not--- to me it's an all or none proposition! Why allow the fed gov to dictate 'terms of education' and not arms? If MONEY is the issue, withhold the money being paid to the feds for which only pennies are returned, and then only through extortion, coercion, and Threat!

    Why allow the fed gov to dictate immigration and importation law/policy but pass nullification laws against certain aspects of it?

    IF YOU READ THE CONSTITUION, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS VERY LITTLE SAY IN IMMIGRATION/IMPORTATION LAW (policy) and is limited to "establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization" and "The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight..: ARTICLE ONE, SECTION 8 and ARTICLE 9; respectfully!

    Visa's and other Documents of Migration should (lawfully) be issued by State governments, not the fed gov; after all, the Constitutional Authority to Prohibit the Migration/Importation 'of certain persons' IN NO WAY implies the authority to make Law regarding whom States may admit...


  • Comment Link Liberty_Clinger Saturday, 15 March 2014 21:29 posted by Liberty_Clinger

    “That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact [U.S. Constitution], to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil… the General Assembly doth solemnly appeal to the like dispositions of the other states, in confidence that they will concur with this commonwealth in declaring, as it does hereby declare, that the acts aforesaid [Alien and Sedition Acts], are unconstitutional; and that the necessary and proper measures will be taken by each, for co-operating with this state, in maintaining the Authorities, Rights, and Liberties, referred to the States respectively, or to the people.” James Madison – 1798 Virginia Resolution

    “The course & scope of the reasoning [1798 Virginia Resolution] requires that by the rightful authority to interpose in the cases & for the purposes referred to, was meant, not the authority of the States singly & separately, but their authority as the parties to the Constitution., the authority which, in fact, made the Constitution; the authority which being paramount to the Constitution was paramount to the authorities constituted by it, to the Judiciary as well as the other authorities [Congress and President]. The resolution derives the asserted right of interposition for arresting the progress of usurpations by the Federal Government from the fact that its powers were limited to the grant made by the States [Constitution]… The mode of their interposition, in extraordinary cases, is left by the Resolution to the parties [States] themselves…in the event of usurpations of power not remediable under the forms and by the means provided by the Constitution [Article V Amendment]… It is sometimes asked in what mode the States could interpose in their collective character as parties to the Constitution against usurped power. It was not necessary for the object & reasoning of the resolutions & report that the mode should be pointed out. It was sufficient to shew that the authority to interpose existed, and was a resort beyond that of the Supreme Court of the U. S. or any authority derived from the Constitution [Congress and President].” James Madison – 1834 Notes on Nullification

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