States’ Rights Update: FL and AK on Sovereignty; Firearms and the ATF

Following up on recent reports by the regarding States’ rights issues, Florida’s State Senate recently received a 10th Amendment Memorial bill for consideration:

Eustis, Florida – State Senator Carey Baker (R-Eustis) has introduced a memorial in the Florida Senate reaffirming the principles of the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The memorial, awaiting an official Senate number, urges “Congress to honor the provisions of the Constitution of the United States and United States Supreme Court case law which limit the scope and exercise of federal power.”

“Now more than ever, state governments must exercise their Constitutional right to say no to the expansion of the federal government’s reckless deficit spending and abuse of power,” Senator Baker said. “With this resolution, our Legislature can send a message to Washington that our state’s rights must be respected.”

Baker spoke at July 4th weekend Tea Parties in Gainesville and Orlando, where he announced his sponsorship of the resolution that affirms the 10th Amendment’s provision that rights not expressly given to the federal government in the Constitution are “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Similar state sovereignty resolutions have been introduced in thirty-six other state legislatures across America. So far, seven states have had both houses of their legislature approve a sovereignty resolution, while three states have rejected them.  Two Governors, Palin of Alaska and Bredesen of Tennessee, have signed state sovereignty resolution.

Florida Groups Supporting State Sovereignty:

The full text of the bill can be found via the article’s referenced link.

Also, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin signed her State’s 10th Amendment resolution…

On Friday, July 10th, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin signed House Joint Resolution 27 (HJR27), sponsored by State Rep. Mike Kelly.  The resolution “claims sovereignty for the state under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.”

The House passed the resolution by a vote of 37-0 (3 not voting) and the Senate passed it by a vote of 40-0.

Six other states have had both houses of their legislature pass similar resolutions – Tennessee, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Louisiana – Alaska joins Tennessee as the second to have such a resolution signed by the Governor.


Passage of this resolution appears to be part of what is now a growing state-level resistance to the federal government on various levels.   Similar 10th Amendment resolutions have been introduced in 37 states around the country, and various states are considering single-issue legislation in direct contravention to federal laws.

Most recently, the Arizona Legislature passed a measure for public approval on the 2010 state ballot that would give Arizona voters the opportunity to nullify, or opt out, of any potential national health care legislation.

Since 2007, more than two dozen states have passed legislation refusing to implement the Real ID act of 2005.  In response, the federal government has recently announced that they want to “repeal and replace” the law due to a rebellion by states.

Pending legislation in states around the country also includes preventing state law enforcement officials from enforcing federal laws, refusing federal gun regulations, refusing to send a state’s national guard to any duty other than what the constitution authorizes, legalizing marijuana for various purposes and more.


While HJR27 is strongly-word in support of the principles of limited, constitutional government that the 10th Amendment represents, it is a Joint Resolution and does not carry with it the force of law.  But supporters say that this is an important first step to get their message out not only to grassroots supporters, but to the media, and legislators in other states as well.

The final verbiage of the signed resolution can be found via referenced link.

The issue of States’ rights and the 2nd Amendment is beginning to take center stage. In a previous posting, I had reported on a general update of where things then stood regarding recently-passed Firearms Freedom Act bills in a number of States. In another update, the and sites provide the reaction of the federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to this State-level legislation:

A line was drawn in the sand last week – a response by the Federal Government to the State of Tennessee and their assertion of sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

(Editor’s note: A similar response was sent to Montana Firearms licenses on 07-16-09 as well)

Part of a series of moves by states seeking to utilize the Tenth Amendment as a limit on Federal Power,  the Tennessee State Senate approved Senate Bill 1610 (SB1610), the Tennesse Firearms Freedom Act, by a vote of 22-7.  The House companion bill, HB1796 previously passed the House by a vote of 87-1.

Governor Breseden allowed the bill to become law without signing.

The law states that “federal laws and regulations do not apply to personal firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition that is manufactured in Tennessee and remains in Tennessee. The limitation on federal law and regulation stated in this bill applies to a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured using basic materials and that can be manufactured without the inclusion of any significant parts imported into this state.”

At the time of passage through the TN House and Senate, Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers had this to say-

“Be it the federal government mandating changes in order for states to receive federal funds or the federal government telling us how to regulate commerce contained completely within this state – enough is enough.  Our founders fought too hard to ensure states’ sovereignty and I am sick and tired of activist federal officials and judges sticking their noses where they don’t belong.”

The Federal Government, by way of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms expressed its own view of the Tenth Amendment this week when it issued an open letter to ‘all Tennessee Federal Firearms Licensees’ in which it denounced the opinion of Beavers and the Tennessee legislature.  ATF assistant director Carson W. Carroll wrote that ‘Federal law supersedes the Act’, and thus the ATF considers it meaningless.

Constitutional historian Kevin R.C. Gutzman sees this as something far removed from the founders’ vision of constitutional government:

“The letter says, in part, ‘because the Act conflicts with Federal firearms laws and regulations, Federal law supersedes the Act, and all provisions of the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act, and their corresponding regulations, continue to apply.’ That is precisely what I predicted the Federal Government’s response to the Tennessee act would be.  As I told Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox News’s Glenn Beck Program on June 5, 2009, federal officials don’t care about a good historical argument concerning the meaning of the Constitution.”

“Their view is that the states exist for the administrative convenience of the Federal Government, and so of course any conflict between state and federal policy must be resolved in favor of the latter.”

“This is another way of saying that the Tenth Amendment is not binding on the Federal Government. Of course, that amounts to saying that federal officials have decided to ignore the Constitution when it doesn’t suit them.”

The Federal Government has regularly claimed that the commerce clause of the constitution, which gives DC authority to regulate commerce between the states, gives them authority to regulate or add prohibitions on items that never cross state lines.

One notable use of the commerce clause in this manner can be found in the 2005 decision by the Supreme Court in ‘Gonzales vs. Raich’, where  the court contended that consuming one’s locally grown marijuana for medical purposes affects the interstate market of marijuana, and hence that the federal government may regulate—and prohibit—such consumption.  They used this claim, even though at the same time they made it clear that no legal market for marijuana exists.

One key aspect of the ATF’s letter is that it was only sent out to existing Federal Firearms Licensees, those generally already in compliance with federal regulations – and who likely would not have participated in the TN Firearms Freedom act anyway, according to sources close to Tenth Amendment Center.

Ultimately what the letter represents is another move in the chess match being played out between the states and the Federal Government, the resolution of which may not be seen for quite some time.

A copy of the letter’s verbiage is available at the referenced link; the site has a scanned image of the letter as well as plenty of individual responses.

Apparently Florida is going to add themselves to the firearms fight. Such a bill was introduced in their State’s House (to be effective October 1, 2010):

Introduced in the Florida House on July 6, 2009, the “Firearms Freedom Act” (HB-21) seeks to provide “that specified firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition for personal use manufactured in state are not subject to federal law or regulation” in the State of Florida.

The bill is sponsored by Florida State Reps O’Toole and Plakon.  They follow in the path of Montana, and Tennessee who have already passed such legislation.  And they join with Utah, Texas, South Carolina and others who are considering it in an effort to limit federal regulation of guns, and specifically invoke the 9th and 10th Amendments as restrictions on federal power:

“the regulation of intrastate commerce is vested in the states under the ninth and tenth amendments to the United States Constitution, particularly if not expressly preempted by federal law. Congress has not expressly preempted state regulation of intrastate commerce pertaining to the manufacture on an intrastate basis of firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition”

In case you can’t get enough of the constitutional theory of federalism, here is a sampling of additional links regarding commentary on the subject:


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2 thoughts on “States’ Rights Update: FL and AK on Sovereignty; Firearms and the ATF”

  1. Reading a little bit about what State Senator Baker has requested, “Congress to honor the provisions of the Constitution…”. One of those provisions is to not allow someone to run for office if they are not constitutionally eligible for said office. In this case check on the man in the white house who thinks this is going to go away. He’s not going to get elected to a second term anyway and when the next “President” comes around that person is going to undo all of the damage that this imposter has inflicted on the good citizenry of this country.

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