In Kansas’ 2013 legislative session, a bill was passed by both houses and signed into law which was intended to outline the importance of the power of a sovereign state. Understand, the people and states have not done this for years, and the federal government will not relinquish its usurped power easily.
In part, the Kansas law addresses federal overreach regarding federal firearms laws. The law exempts “Made in Kansas” guns and accessories from federal regulation and makes it a crime for federal agents to enforce federal law. To make this work requires the state’s legislators, Attorney General, and state/local law enforcement to follow the law, as well.
I remember well the letter sent to my state by then US Attorney General Eric Holder. (You know, the guy who was held in contempt of Congress, ran the Fast and Furious program that led to the death of agent Brian Terry, and more.) I honestly believe we have the best Secretary of State in the nation in Kris Kobach. It is my understanding that Mr. Kobach was largely the author of Governor Brownback’s response, adding in a personal statement, “As a former professor of constitutional law, I ensured that it was drafted to withstand any legal challenge. The Obama Administration has repeatedly violated the United States Constitution for the past four-and-a-half-years. That abuse cannot continue.”
There is a move in parts of the conservative world to nullify federal law. In reality, nullification rarely works and has yet to stand against a court challenge. This law was crafted not to nullify the federal law, but to assert the people's and the state’s rights to operate within the borders of a state. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states the enumerated powers of Congress include: “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” Nowhere is the federal government given power to regulate commerce within a state, and the statement “shall not be infringed” must not be ignored.
We all knew that at some point there would be a confrontation; after all, this is guns, not marijuana. Interestingly enough, there has been no effort to enforce federal drug laws regarding marijuana in states that have made its use legal, but I digress.
In 1908, Hiram P Maxim invented the muffler. Actually, he called it a silencer because it significantly reduced the level of noise reaching the ears. Yes, it was invented for guns first, and he adapted the technology for internal combustion motors as well. It is a safety device. Just as a muffler does not make a car silent, neither does a suppressor make a gun silent; it simply reduces the decibels to a safe level.
The Kansas law applies to accessories as well, so Shane Cox began to make and sell suppressors within Kansas, and Jeremy Kettler was just one of his many customers.
In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled in Printz v. United States, and ”the Court explained that federalism in the United States is based upon “dual sovereign,” quoting Federalist No. 39's assurance that states retain "a residual and inviolable sovereignty." The Court stated that the Framers designed the Constitution to allow Federal regulation of international and interstate matters, not internal matters reserved to the State Legislatures.
When federal agents came to arrest Cox and Kettler, they should have been warned by state and local law enforcement that they were violating state law, and if they had persisted, they should have been arrested and charged. However, these two men were picked out, charged, and convicted. Both are now convicted felons, and cannot touch, or own a firearm for the rest of their lives.
Just what outlandish act did these two men commit? How many people were killed in the commission of their crime? What did they do to deserve the title of “felon?” Their crime was for making and firing a muffler for a gun which was perfectly legally in Kansas. Neither the gun nor the suppressor was used in the commission of a crime.
Kansas Attorney General, Derek Schmidt has filed documents and letters with the court and the new US Attorney General Sessions. It is hoped that the new AG will act, or that President Trump will intervene with a pardon for these two men.
I attended an event on Saturday that highlighted the culmination of a Tenth Amendment “fight.” It was a fundraiser to help pay the legal bills that Cox and Kettler have incurred in this fight. The event was sponsored by the Kansas Chamber of Liberty and included Ted Nugent, Sheriff Richard Mack, KS Sec of State, Kris Kobach, Bob Hodgdon, and Larry Pratt as speakers. You might recognize the name Hodgdon from the line of gunpowder that bears his name and Larry Pratt, the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America (GOA). Both spoke on the importance of the 2nd Amendment in relation to our personal liberties and natural rights.
Sheriff Mack’s claim to fame was suing the federal government and President Bill Clinton, and not only winning, but living to tell about it. Sheriff Mack founded the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), and he has been quite vocal about the power of the local sheriff being duly elected by the people. Sheriff Mack refused to follow the Brady Bill which required state officials to act on behalf of the federal government (the 1997 case I mentioned above, was that case.) The sheriff encouraged all law enforcement, especially sheriffs and deputies to enforce constitutional law and stand between the federal government and the people. Sheriff Mack maintains it was the local sheriff’s duty to arrest any federal agent attempting to enforce unconstitutional laws.
Secretary Kobach spoke on the law which he helped draft and which was passed, as well as the constitutional issues involved. Sec Kobach discussed the “commerce clause” which is so often touted, but the fact that the specifics of the clause are ignored-- those specifics meaning the federal government is restricted to regulating commerce …with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes...” not intrastate commerce. He also discussed the “Supremacy Clause,” another issue often taken out of context much as AG Holder did in his letter.
From Article VI:
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
The point is that the Supremacy Clause is restricted to laws which are within its enumerated powers to make. Statements such as “Congress shall make no laws…” and “...shall not be infringed” are ignored when it fits the government’s case.
The keynote speaker was Ted Nugent, and I shall not use his colorful metaphors here, but if you’ve heard him speak, you can fill in the blanks. Ted emphasized the importance of each person to educate those in our sphere of influence regarding our natural right to self-defense, both from criminal elements and a tyrannical government. He spoke of the insanity of government imposed “safe spaces” or “gun free zones” when it is our personal responsibility to create our own safe space. Essentially all mass shootings occur in gun free zones; we fewer, not more.
Ted emphasized the importance of everyone’s personal responsibility, not just in self-protection but in educating those around us and our elected employees. He spoke often of politicians being our employees and how we need to start treating them as such. I couldn’t agree more.
We are in our current situation because we slept while the federal leviathan grew unchecked. Frequently, the government uses the “carrot” of funding to entice states to do its bidding. We must not fall into that trap.
Two men have had their lives forever changed because they trusted their state and were let down. Imagine if a bully threatened your best friend or wife, and you promised to stand between the threat and your loved one. Then, when the threat became an action, you just stepped back and let it happen.
You well know I am a “cause and effect” kind of guy. While this is a terrible injustice, it is a symptom of a much larger problem. If we don’t stand against the overreaching of the federal government when we see it, someday it will be after each of us.
First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.