Unfortunately, the Michigan Legislature will be back on their regular session schedule on Wednesday after just meeting once for the State of State address, but it appears 2013 will be more of the same partisan grandstanding by extremist right-wingers.
Just a week after it was introduced, the Senate judiciary Committee will be meeting at the early of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 23 to consider Senate Bill 63 that establishes something called the “Michigan firearms freedom act” that nullifies the federal gun laws President Obama proposed after the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The bill was sponsored by 13 Republican Senators just two days after the White House Task Force on gun violence issued its common sense policy recommendations to reduce gun violence.
This is clearly unconstitutional under Article VI, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, also known as the Supremacy Clause, which says any federal decision regarding the constitution will prevail over a state’s exercise of power. However, that has never stopped the extremist agenda.
Basically – after all, I am not a lawyer and have not studied law- Nullification is a constitutional theory that gives an individual state the right to declare null and void any law passed by the United States Congress which the state deems unacceptable and unconstitutional.
You may recall The Nullification Crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. It was a sectional crisis brought about by South Carolina’s 1832 Ordinance of Nullification in a dispute over tariffs. The crisis was diverted when the tariff rates were reduced, but the states’ rights doctrine of nullification was rejected by the nation.
It really never should have been an issue because of the U.S. Supreme Court case McCulloch vs. Maryland of 1819. The court ruled that the authority of the federal government comes from the people rather than the state governments. The U.S. Constitution had not been adopted by the state governments, but by people gathered in state conventions. Therefore, the Constitution gained its authority from the people. For this reason, the federal government, in fulfilling the responsibility given it by the Constitution and ultimately the people, is superior to the state governments. That’s why the Framers included the Supremacy Clause.
Nullification and so-called “states rights” was also used in the South to deny African-Americans basic rights.
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, who is also an attorney, scoffed at the bill in an article in Mlive, saying “Aside from the fact that any first year law student could tell you this bill violates the supremacy clause of our nation’s constitution, how out of touch does a Senator have to be to even think it’s appropriate to nullify federal firearm regulations at a time when Americans are asking federal and state officials to develop smarter and more comprehensive gun laws to keep our kids safe?”
This is an organized effort, and eight states have passed similar legislation. There is a case pending in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over the state of Montana’s law.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has issued letters to states that have passed the laws, stating that federal law supersedes the state laws, and all provisions of the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act continue to apply.
That is not going to stop the Republicans. They should be having a discussion and passing common sense gun laws that prevent gun violence; like closing the gun show loophole, requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale, reauthorizing the assault weapons ban and banning large capacity magazine instead of kissing the ass of NRA lobbyists.
SB 63 further claims that Michigan has the right to regulate firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition produced, bought, and sold in Michigan, and it will not be subject to federal regulation. That, of course, ignores Article I Section 8 Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution that grants Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the states.
The Committee hearing is being held in room 110 of the Farnum Building, 125 W. Allegan St., in Lansing at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23, and it is open to the public. If you can’t be there, call or e-mail your Senator and tell them to oppose this unconstitutional farce and waste of time.