By: TJ Martinell
A recent decision by U.S. Supreme Court not to take up a gun rights case demonstrates that all too often, the high court does not act in a way that protects individual liberty. It also demonstrates further why our right to keep and bear arms will only be secured through local action and nullification by states willing to defy federal overreach.
It is clear based on a plain and logical reading of the Second Amendment that it prohibits the federal government from passing any restriction on the right to keep and bear arms. Yet since the 1930s, the three branches of the federal government have repeatedly violated it in the form of executive orders, legislation, and court rulings. A prime example is the National Firearms Act, which requires a person to get permission from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) before purchasing a suppressor. The process is much more intrusive and thorough than federal background checks – also unconstitutional – and usually takes several months.
In 2013, the Kansas legislature passed the Second Amendment Protection Act and Governor Sam Brownback signed it with Attorney General Derek Schmidt as one of the witnesses. The bill originally required the Kansas Attorney General to prosecute any federal agent who committed the felony of acting against the law but it was watered down to say that he “may” prosecute federal agents. In effect, the bill legalized the manufacture and sale of firearms and firearm accessories in Kansas without any federal licensing or restrictions so long as that firearm is not sold outside of Kansas.
In 2017, a federal judge sentenced Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler under federal law – Cox for manufacturing and selling a silencer and other firearms without paying the federal license/tax and Kettler for possessing and using that silencer. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt refused to take action against the federal agents and refused to intervene in the federal court case despite the urging of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and many others.
Cox and Kettler argued that the policy violated their right to keep and bear arms and that they should have been shielded by the state law. Their appeal went all the way to SCOTUS, which declined to hear the case.
In the ideal world with judges truly faithful to the true meaning of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the case would have been taken up by the high court and used as an opportunity to declare all federal gun control laws or regulations null and void. Instead, we have judges sitting on the high court that refuse to even consider the matter.
This is yet again why Americans should never put their trust in the feds of any branch to defend their rights. It is not the approach advocated by key Founding Fathers such as James Madison, who had the foresight to promote a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” as the key to ensuring liberties were preserved.
The rights of a free people will never be preserved in the most unlikely of hands – a small group of unelected people who have enough difficulty reaching their position by straying the slightest from what Tom Woods refers to as the “3×5 index card of allowable opinion.”