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Friday, October 21, 2016

by Lois Beckett, ProPublica

In mid-April, Kansas passed a law asserting that federal gun regulations do not apply to guns made and owned in Kansas. Under the law, Kansans could manufacture and sell semi-automatic weapons in-state without a federal license or any federal oversight.

Kansas’ “Second Amendment Protection Act” backs up its states’ rights claims with a penalty aimed at federal agents: When dealing with “Made in Kansas” guns, any attempt to enforce federal law is now a felony. Bills similar to Kansas’ law have been introduced in at least 37 other states. An even broader bill is on the desk of Alaska governor Sean Parnell. That bill would exempt any gun owned by an Alaskan from federal regulation. In Missouri, a bill declaring federal gun laws “null and void” passed by an overwhelming majority in the state House, and is headed for debate in the Senate.

Mobilizing the pre-Civil War doctrine of “nullification,” these bills assert that Congress has overstepped its ability to regulate guns — and that states, not the Supreme Court, have the ultimate authority to decide whether a law is Constitutional or not.

The head of the Kansas’s State Rifle Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, says she put the bill together and found it a sponsor. While the NRA regularly lauds passages of states’ gun-rights laws, it stayed silent on Kansas’ law, and, so far, has kept a low profile on nullification. (The group did not respond to our requests for comment.)

Many observers see nullification bills as pure political theater, “the ultimate triumph of symbolism over substance,” as UCLA law Professor Adam Winkler put it. He said he doubts the laws will ever be enforced, and, if they are, expects them to be struck down by the courts.

Winkler and others say nullification laws violate the Constitution, which makes federal law “the supreme law of the land…anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” Indeed, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter last week to Kansas governor Sam Brownback, asserting that Kansas’ law is “unconstitutional.” (Brownback, who signed the bill into law, did not immediately respond to our requests for comment.)

But the growing number of such bills — which have passed by large majorities in at least one chamber of seven state legislatures–highlight the challenge gun control advocates face in their attempt to fight for gun regulation at the state level.

It also shows how nullification is fast becoming a mainstream option for state politicians. In Pennsylvania, 76 state legislators signed on to sponsor a measure that would invalidate any new federal ban of certain weapons or ammunition. The bill would impose a minimum penalty of one year in prison for federal agents who attempt to enforce any new law.

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  • tdm3624

    What a colossal waste of time and money.

  • charleo1

    You know, it seems like these politicians could find a better use
    of their positions, and if they are to be believed, scarce tax dollars.
    To do something more useful, than pay their State’s attorneys to
    re litigate, the Civil War. It would be, I’ll say nice. Nice, if they would
    work on the tough issues, once in a while. Surely, they can see we
    have lots of worn out roads, lots of children that need educating.
    Lots of other people, that need retraining, so they could go back to
    work, and support their families better. Is there no way at all to give
    these people just a little help? These abortion laws, or gun issues.
    Both provide a good opportunity, I suppose, to pick a fight with the
    Federal Gov’t. But, is that really what the people of the State of KS.
    sent them to do?

    • wesley rasmussen

      Evidently THEY think so. Besides, everyone who has heard the Karl Rove opinion of voters knows that a Republican voter is merely an uneducated future Democrat. He basically said that in an interview with the NEW YORKER back in 2002.

      • charleo1

        Karl is one piece of nasty work, that guy.

        • CPAinNewYork

          Karl Rove is a piece of crap.

    • Our elected representatives bring these things up because that’s where the money is.

      • charleo1

        That’s exactly right. There’s no money paid to legislate for
        the People, except the salaries our tax dollars provide.
        No swank junkets to Bali. No private jets. No millions for a
        super-pac, come election time. You know, come to think
        of it, we’re lucky we’re not even farther in the toilet than
        we are.

    • Beautiful post, brother.

  • Michael Kollmorgen

    This is where the Federal Government should step in and enforce the law.

    If this stuff keeps up, we won’t have a Federal Government eventually.

  • Only the NRA and its lapdog politicians could deign to try and make it against the law to enforce the law.

  • wesley rasmussen

    Time to make a Federal law that would allow for a charge against all parties to such an illegal use of legislation. One that mandates jail time for all sponsors, signatories, and supporters by vote should the law pass at this lower level. Such a law would also provide for the removal from office, and subsequent censure, from any appointed or elective office for a period of twenty years, mandated by law, and not given any latitude by executive or judicial review at the state level.

    See how that flies with the GOTP idiots. They deserve it.

    • How about we just withdraw ALL federal funding for the states that refuse to follow Federal law. I’m sure the constituents wouldn’t waste any time re-electing different politicians to represent them once all the Federal subsidies quit flowing.

      • jgsoliveira

        They only do that with education, when they are ready to hold funds unless you enforce that mean spirited joke against teachers called NCLB.

    • What we really need to do, Wes, is to remind our representatives of their solemn oath of office: To represent all people. The legislation that should be made is the lobbyists that buy and influence our representatives and sway their legislation against us. Any representative who is found representing a lobby should be impeached and removed from office immediately because there is a conflict of interest there that causes what America and Americans are going through right now with Republicunts/Tea Bags/Yellow Dog Democrats. Listen to the language these representatives use and you’ll see it drips with influence from lobbyists and political PACs. That sort of corruption has to stop.

      • charleo1

        You said a lot, and very well. Thanks.

      • Ah, but lobbyists are representing corporations, thus in turn representing the people. As we all know, the conservatives on the Supreme Court ruled that corporations represent people thus are people too, (as Romney loved to point out). As we all know though, what a corporation wants is dictated from the top not by a democracy of the people within. The upper management, mostly being wealthy and Republicans then get to voice the corporation political stance which may not actually represent the wishes of the majority of people within the corporation. Surely we can trust the conservatives on the Supreme Court full well knew this upon ruling in favor of the conservative ‘Citizens United’ group on this matter.

  • howa4x

    I only wish the red states would finally leave the union. The Blue states would fly up since they wouldn’t be held down by the dumber red states. We have the best hospitals, Colleges, and control the economic might of the country. We also have the most population. I’m tried that idiots in places like Kansas can go to congress and deny funding to blue state issues. Once there is a true split they can have all the guns they want, ban abortion and start an anti gay crusade. They can elect Jesus as their first president if they want. Problem for them is if that happens all the really smart people, young people, gays and others will just leave. The can have work for less laws and their new country will have the medium income of a wal- mart cashier. They are so stupid now they don’t even realize they are being subsidized by the blue sates. I’m tired of all their crap anyway.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      You might find out by doing this, the South actually might become stronger.

      Because of right to work laws and much lower taxes, this is why many northern companies have now located down south.

      The people who live there might be stupid as a brick wall, but corporations won’t have any loyalty to the north. They’ll go where the largest profits can be made, which they have been doing for quite some time already. This is what created all of our Rust Belt Cities up north – companies moving down south or completely out of the country to China.

      So, be careful what you wish for. You just might get it and you and everyone else won’t like the results. I mean, I don’t have that much longer on this earth. I’m 64 and have no family. The ones who stand to loose the most from this is going to be your children in the future.

      The best way to effect a real change is to move yourself and your entire family OUT of the country completely. This is the only sane solution. Believe me, there are way better places to live and raise a family than this country.

      • mah101

        Not really, since the Blue States could actually pass some tax reform that would no longer privilege production outside of the country.

      • howa4x

        I agree we are already looking at the map

      • Justin Napolitano

        Screw the south, they have been trying to re-instate slavery any way they can. Most southern states workers receive much lower pay than northern states. I would consider most minimum wage earners as slaves since it is impossible to live on that small amount of money.

    • I would like to see the border moved north to the Mason-Dixon line. I wonder how the southern population will react when all the welfare dollars quit flowing that direction.

    • chuck

      howa4x: You’ve got my vote on that proposal. Years ago I reached the conclusion that we’d be better off if the South had prevailed in the Civil War. The Southern states, plus those that would now support them, do little more than drag the USA down to their level.
      This nation is too diverse to remain a union. Split it up and start over. Give everyone four or five years to decide which side they want to live in, and then shut the borders (as they want anyway) and treat the South like any other third-world nation, … but no foreign aid!

      • Michael Kollmorgen

        Yea, the way these states act, the only thing missing now is Border Guards.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      Any red state that wants to live the union, fine with me.

      Give the residents of said state one year to decide if they want to move to a blue state. Afterwards, no one from a red state would be allowed to move to a blue state.

      No federal aid is offered whatsoever, all communication lines are cut, all internet access denied, all cells are jammed. All water, gas and electric power cut and destroyed.

      Destroy all military bases including their state national guard bases and all federal soldiers move to the blue states. If any federal troop defects, catch em and try em for treason.

      Blockade all Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coast shores from any foreign power for the purpose of assistance. Have a policy of shoot on sight anyone trying to cross over to a blue state. I’m sure Mexico would give them “some” help.

      Afterwards, propose to Canada that the Blue States merge with their country and adopt their form of government.

      If they want their own country, let them built it from scratch. PERIOD

      • howa4x

        It’s funny they keep waving their guns around and yipping about secession. I say we won’t fight them this time. Just get the F out of here

  • Lovefacts

    I’m not surprised by this action. With the exception of a few western states–which are red states–the majority are from the red south. Given these red southern states have never stopped fighting the Civil War–better known in Virginia as the War of Northern Aggression–why would anyone think they follow the constitution. They give lip-service to it, yes, but follow it, no. They pick and choose only what they believe will support their right wing positions.

  • jgsoliveira

    and that’s how Republicons spend tax payers money that otherwise they do not have to help the needy!

  • mah101

    So let me get this straight… The NRA vehemently protests against any new laws regulating access to firearms in large part on the grounds that we have enough laws on the books and the problem is that we are not enforcing them.

    And then… the States pass unconstitutional laws to prevent the enforcement of the laws on the books.

    Am I perceiving any irony from any of these people? Or, as I suspect, are they incapable of irony?

  • Allan Richardson

    I can foresee this scenario: an unlicensed gun dealer in state X sells a gun without a background check (after the new bill finally passes) to a felon, which is witnessed by a federal ATF agent who arrests him. He calls his lawyer who calls his state legislator who calls the local sheriff, who arrests the ATF agent for violating state X new nullification law. As soon as the story hits the news, a US Marshal is sent to get the agent out of jail. They arrest the Marshal for violating state X law. The state charges the agent and the Marshal, holds a kangaroo court jury trial and convicts them of the newly created “felony” in state court. So now you have state X holding federal agents as felons for doing their jobs. The federal DOJ appeals those convictions (since the state is effectively saying the US government is a felon, acting through its agents) to the Supreme Court, which strikes down the state X law as unconstitutional and vacates the convictions, then orders the state to release the prisoners.

    At what point does the Governor of state X mobilize the state’s National Guard to attack an Army, Navy, or Air Force base in the state? And how would that play out?

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      This is probably exactly what certain states would love to happen.

      I doubt an individual state’s national guard could attack a regular Federal Troop and Air Force Base and win.

      Even if they did win that battle, they would loose in the end because that particular state would be totally wiped out eventually.

      It would make one hell of a mess regardless.

      • Allan Richardson

        They tried it once to keep their slaves. Are they dumb enough to try it again? And after defeating them, would the Union government make this Reconstruction easier or harder than the last time?

        The first time, the federal government did not have reserve armed forces that could be called up without going through the state government. LEGALLY, in this century the President could call up and federalize the National Guard, even in the red states, by cable TV, telephone, satellite TV, email, or even cell phone text message, to each individual member. But each troop would have to decide whether to report to the state armory or (the most likely order) to a federal armed forces base. How loyal would red state troops be to the Union? How many would report for federal service and secretly sabotage the effort? Or for that matter, how many would report for REBEL service and sabotage THEM? Would the same uncertainty apply to troops in “blue” states that support the Union, especially where left and right are mixed together in the same cities? What would happen to liberal civilians in red states (mass arrest of Democrats in suburban Atlanta?) or rebel-supporting civilians in blue states? Would the “old Dixie” state governments, citing their almost universal support of the “fake” President as a sign of disloyalty to their state, conduct mass arrest of African Americans for slave labor?

        It would be a big mess for sure, and the rebuilding afterward would be both a disruption to the economy and, ironically, an opportunity to stimulate it with federal aid (but would the rebel states be billed later for that aid, or would they revert to territories, to be “redistricted” into new states with different names and borders?).

        If, by some strange turn of events (Alabama National Guard troops overrun federal nuke storage bases and take possession of some bombs?), the rebel states become a new independent Confederate States of America, minorities, gays, perhaps Democrats and non-fundamentalist Christians as well, might crowd the borders asking for political asylum in the U.S. Corporate chains of nationwide branches, from fast food to banks and insurance companies, would be disrupted with some of their branches suddenly becoming “foreign” offices! What kind of diplomatic relations would exist between the two nations? Foreign policy would be problematical, as for example if the Confederates support Israeli policies and oppose peace talks while the Union tries to put pressure on both parties to negotiate. Would the two work together in some foreign policy situations to retain the “clout” of the former United States’ size? Or would rivals like China or Russia (or the European Union) take a “divide and conquer” attitude to weaken both American nations?

        What is frightening is that the red state legislatures, and their most rabid base voters, may not have thought through these possibilities and so might rashly walk into a second Civil War. And the corporate sponsors of the Tea Party may not have thought about them either, not expecting their political proteges to REALLY go that far (or, more frighteningly, HAVE thought about them and incorporated war into their business STRATEGY).

        • Michael Kollmorgen

          Civil War? Emmmm.

          Honestly, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already.

          I think China would step in and help the red states as well as some of the smaller, more radical countries. Not because they really like them, but, to weaken this entire country.

          Russia would probably help the Blue States. Probably France would help the Blue States since they helped us during the Revolutionary War.

          In any case, what would result would be an entirely different structure of this country. Even without a full civil war, I don’t know how long it would take, but, I see this country falling apart and evolve into a state similar to North and South Korea eventually.

          These “united” states never really were united. Each one of these states have been acting like Fiefdoms all along, vieing for even more state powers. The only thing that is keeping this country together right now is a strong Federal Government. With Republican attacks weakening more and more federal powers, the federal government will become weaker over time.

          These Red States had better step back from that possible cliff and consider their options.

          • dtgraham

            Canada would help Vermont. Quebec and Vermont maple syrup together on the same table? Mmmmmm. A sap sucker’s paradise.

          • Michael Kollmorgen

            Personally, I would like to see all of the Blue Northern States merge with Canada.

            But, I wonder, would Canada even want us? I wouldn’t if I were them.

          • dtgraham

            America is a great country Michael, but I still remember that internet map from late 2004 after Bush won his second term. They had the northern and coastal blue states merging with Canada and forming a new country called the United States of Canada. The interior red states formed a new country called Jesusland. It was funny and I understood the anger. A merging of liberal minded people? Sounds great to me.

      • The neo-Conderacy is alive and well in America under the Republicunt/Tea Bags. The Civil War ended 148 years ago and they are still fighting it. They are traitors, thumbing their noses at the Constitution and the United States government, and they are the reason America is ranked 7th on the list of violators of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

        • Michael Kollmorgen

          Well, the “old south” never did admit defeat.

          Actually, there are a lot more Traitors than in just the south.

          Most of them are Corporations and their bought and paid for supportive politicians……………..

          There was a very interesting program on PBS a few weeks ago. In the South, when slavery was abolished and the war ended, slavery was still very active, but under the banner of corporate slavery, meaning, you did something wrong, or seemingly wrong, you were sent to jail. Then the jail hired you out to local businesses to work for them for near slave wages. You had no rights. Estimates point to nearly a third died in their employ. This went on until the 1930s or so.

          • You’re exactly right, Mike. Suggested reading: The Constitution and the New Jim Crow by Robert P. Robertson, Check it out.

          • Michael Kollmorgen

            Yea, I think I seen that title on Amazon. I was thinking of getting it.

            You might be interested in;

            Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Kline. Talks about the corporate takeover of the US.


            The future, by Al Gore. Talks about the corporate takeover of the world.

            In either case, it don’t bode well for us, the people.

    • While all this is going on the felon with the gun shoots his ex-girlfriend and her children and is hailed as a hero-of-the-NRA by all Kansans and Wayne Lapierre.

  • They plan to turn your AR-15s into paper clips!

  • they only have scarce tax dollars when education and feeding the elderly come into play. Earlier this year , maybe end of last, fifty elderly were told no more meals for you it costs 53,000 a year to run program. they later reinstated because of taxpayers being upset also dropped library days open and funding. But for god’s sake lets spend tax dollars on their special sessions to protest gun laws. Believe it or not I am in favor of guns just not stupid spending of resources

  • Justin Napolitano

    The Federal government has one big trump card and that is that it can withhold funds from states that don’t follow federal law. They can withhold funds for highways, schools and every program you can name. Kansas will stop the nonsense once they discover they have serious funding problems.

  • CPAinNewYork

    Anyone who believes that a state law trumps federal law deserves the punishment that may come from such a ridiculous belief.

  • mothermay1

    Are these people Americans? What century are they from? They need mental help. We need background checks right away. Start with the NRA, gun lobbies and Congress. That’s about 80% of the misfits,