On the Northern Alliance broadcast this yesterday, Ed and I talked with Minnesota State Representative Tom Emmer. Emmer is seeking the GOP nomination to run for governor in 2010, and at first meeting he seems like a great candidate; I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the GOP contenders (and in cases, meeting them again).
But he wasn’t on the show to campaign this time. He was there to promote his latest legislative initiative, House File 2376 – also known as the Firearms Freedom Act.
And I think that there is genius in this initiative – not just in strengthening our Second Amendment rights, but in re-establishing the Tenth.
Work with me, here.
Thirty years ago, the Second Amendment was practically dead in the United States. Gun control was sweeping the nation. The courts accepted a vapid and fraudulent interpretation of an otherwise-insignificant case as the primary legal precedent dealing with the Second Amendment. The rights of the law-abiding hit ebb-tide by the mid-seventies.
And then a grass-roots movement germinated, and took hold; the plebeians, infinitely wiser than their putative masters on matters of liberty, started fighting back. And starting in the early 1980s, they started turning the tide – one vote, one town, one legislature at a time,
“Shall-Issue” concealed carry laws – which put the burden on the state to prove that the citizen sould not have the ability to bear the arms they keep – are a useful bellwether. In 1983, there were all of eight states with these laws. But the movement – a force of workadaddy, hugamommy citizens who squeezed activism into their spare time between work and family – started organizing movements, city by city and state by state, to change the laws. And now, 26 years later, 39 states are either shall-issue or have no restrictions on the law-abiding whatsoever; only two states (Wisconsin and Illinois, which has such a peaceful place) still pay unthinking, lobotomized fealty to the orc ideal that a disarmed, passive citizenry is best.
And this victory was won one voter, one street, one bill at a time. From the “bottom”, “up”.
And Tom Emmer’s bill – actually borrowed from similar bills that have become law in Montana, Tennesee and South Carolina - is part of a national, grassroots effort to start that same dynamic for the second-least-appreciated amendment in the Constitution, the Tenth.
The Tenth Amendment has fallen on hard times since the 1930′s; the Fed, operating under the cover of several key court cases, has been able to insinuate federal power into a range of places and subjects that would have made the founding fathers blanche.
(For the benefit of the Obama supporters in the audience, the Tenth Amendment reads “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,” where “the people” mean exactly what Heller says it means; you and I).
The overreach of the Obama Administration casts this effort into stark relief; it underscores the urgency of the mission. The Tenth Amendment is supposed to help protect the people from gross overreach by the federal government. The implications of a weak Tenth Amendment are obvious; the government can claim almost anything is “interstate commerce” as a pretext for regulation.
The benefits of a strong Tenth? The implications everything from taxation to Roe Vs. Wade.
And I think the Firearms Freedoms acts being introduced in other states (as Emmer’s is being introduced in Minnesota) are a great way to marry the power, passion and grassroots savvy of the most freedom-loving people in America with the need to push government back out of huge swathes of American life, and to do to the Interstate Commerce Act what the Right to Keep and Bear Arms movement has done to Gun Control.
If you live in Minnesota, get on your phone, call your legislator, and let them know that the same groundswell of people that pushed the Minnesota Personal Protection Act through to law after eight years of trenchfighting is still out there, looking for more notches on its belt.
If you live elsehwere? Your mission is clear; let your legislators know that the Tenth Amendment isn’t (overregulated, over-taxed) chicken-feed. Support the Firearms Freedom Act in your state.
It’s not just about guns.