By: Michael Boldin
With an enforcement deadline looming at the end of May, potentially affecting millions of stabilizing braces, the new ATF rule is – as the founders told us – a test or an “experiment of your disposition.”
The Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted its “Final Rule” on pistol stabilizing braces to the Federal Register on January 13, 2023. This new gun control rule by executive order could turn millions of previously legally-owned firearms with a brace attached into NFA-regulated short-barreled rifles (SBRs), and the people that possess those weapons into felons – with the stroke of a pen.
The penalties they’re threatening are significant – federal felony charges carry up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each firearm in violation.
But, as the Founders and old Revolutionaries told us – any act beyond the limits of the Constitution is an act of “usurpation,” or a theft of power from the sovereign people of the several states. All such acts are void, and in the words of even big-government-loving Alexander Hamilton – they “deserve to be treated as such.”
Just a quick overview of some of their writings tell us exactly what that means.
In response to the Stamp Act of 1765, for example, John Dickinson urged the people to refuse to comply with the act. He wrote:
“IF you comply with the Act by using Stamped Papers, you fix, you rivet perpetual Chains upon your unhappy Country. You unnecessarily, voluntarily establish the detestable Precedent, which those who have forged your Fetters ardently wish for, to varnish the future Exercise of this new claimed Authority”
Like so many others of the time, the “Penman of the Revolution” understood that mass compliance just encourages government to take more and more…and more. He continued:
“THE Stamp Act, therefore, is to be regarded only as an EXPERIMENT OF YOUR DISPOSITION. If you quietly bend your Necks to that Yoke, you prove yourselves ready to receive any Bondage to which your Lords and Masters shall please to subject you”
Compliance with unconstitutional acts just guarantees more of the same in the future. And in the other direction, James Madison told us that non-compliance and “a refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” is an essential part of how to keep the federal government in check – without relying on the federal government to somehow, magically limit itself.
Yet, some people want us to “wait for the federal courts to sort this out” – as if potentially years of waiting for one part of the government to tell another part of the government to stop doing what the government never should have been doing in the first place is anything close to what a “free people” would do.
In fact, it’s the opposite. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “A free people claim their rights, as derived from the laws of nature, and not as a gift of their chief magistrate.”
When you get down to it, waiting on the federal government to stop itself is not a people living in a “land of the free.” It’s a population on its knees, begging for permission.
When it comes to the right to keep and bear arms, we’re definitely talking about the “laws of nature.”
Mercy Otis Warren put it this way, “Self defence is a primary law of nature, which no subsequent law of society can abolish.”
James Wilson took it a step further, “The defence of one’s self, justly called the primary law of nature, is not, nor can it be abrogated by any regulation of municipal law.”
That’s part of why we take the position that the number of federal gun control measures that are authorized by the constitution is ZERO.
This includes the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, which the ATF claims is where many firearms with stabilizing braces will now be regulated as SBRs.
While following Madison, Dickinson – and even Hamilton – to treat this latest act of usurpation as it deserves to be treated is not without risk, ultimately, it’s up to the people to protect and defend their own constitution and their own liberty – whether the government likes it, or not.
Thomas Paine may have summed it up best:
“The strength and powers of despotism consist wholly in the fear of resisting it.”