Posted on

Obama’s “Unified Agenda” on Gun Control and How to Stop it

In a recent Breitbart News article highlighting the Obama administration’s Spring 2015 “Unified Agenda”–published May 22–shows that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) are pushing a number of new gun control rules for implementation by executive fiat.

Hidden away among nearly 2300 new rules effecting every single federal agency across the board are some extremely burdensome regulations for FFL holders and some that even effect the average citizen. A few highlighted in the article include;

Rule–RIN: 1140 AA04–will expand persons barred from gun ownership and possession by including “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” as grounds for forfeiting the right to “ship, transport, possess, or receive in or affecting commerce firearms or ammunition.” It would also make it “unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of a firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the recipient has been convicted of such a misdemeanor.”

Another rule–RIN: 1140 AA47–broadens the number of people barred from gun possession by expanding the ATF’s mental health provisions on background checks. The NRA pointed out that because most mentally ill persons pose no threat to society, the new regulations will actually become “snares [for] masses of mostly harmless individuals.”

Gun Owners of America’s Michael Hammond warns that under this rule the person barred from gun ownership “could be [someone] who spanked his kid, or yelled at his wife, or slapped her husband.”

Rule–RIN: 1140 AA41–impacts FFLs by creating new reporting requirements for lost or stolen guns as well as new reporting requirements for lost or stolen guns that have been recovered.

Lastly, rule–RIN: 1140-AA43–impacts trusts that hold firearms regulated under the National Firearms Act. The rule requires trusts, corporations or legal entities possessing the guns to produce a “responsible person” who can undergo a background for guns in probate, before they are passed to a descendant. This person would “complete a specified form” and “submit photographs and fingerprints” simply to hold the guns while the estate is settled.

It’s long been known that President Obama and his administration would love to add to his legacy stricter and more burdensome unconstitutional federal firearm regulations. He’s also shown that he has no reservations of circumventing Congress.

The time is NOW, to push back against these new gun control rules for implementation by executive fiat. The plan is known as the anti-commandeering doctrine, the legal principle rests primarily on four Supreme Court opinions dating back to 1842.

In Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842), Justice Joseph Story held that the federal government could not force states to implement or carry out the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. He said that it was a federal law, and the federal government ultimately had to enforce it.

    The fundamental principle applicable to all cases of this sort, would seem to be, that where the end is required, the means are given; and where the duty is enjoined, the ability to perform it is contemplated to exist on the part of the functionaries to whom it is entrusted. The clause is found in the national Constitution, and not in that of any state. It does not point out any state functionaries, or any state action to carry its provisions into effect. The states cannot, therefore, be compelled to enforce them; and it might well be deemed an unconstitutional exercise of the power of interpretation, to insist that the states are bound to provide means to carry into effect the duties of the national government, nowhere delegated or entrusted to them by the Constitution.

In the early 90s, the state of New York sued the federal government asserting provisions in the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985 were coercive and violated its sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment. The Court majority in New York v. United States (1992) agreed, holding that “because the Act’s take title provision offers the States a ‘choice’ between the two unconstitutionally coercive alternatives–either accepting ownership of waste or regulating according to Congress’ instructions–the provision lies outside Congress’ enumerated powers and is inconsistent with the Tenth Amendment.”

Sandra Day O’Connor wrote for the majority in the 6-3 decision.

    As an initial matter, Congress may not simply “commandee[r] the legislative processes of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program.”

She later expounded on this point.

    While Congress has substantial powers to govern the Nation directly, including in areas of intimate concern to the States, the Constitution has never been understood to confer upon Congress the ability to require the States to govern according to Congress’ instructions.

O’Connor argues that standing alone, both options offered to the State of New York for dealing with radioactive waste in the act represented an unconstitutional overreach. Therefore, forcing the state to choose between the two is also unconstitutional.

A choice between two unconstitutionally coercive regulatory techniques is no choice at all. Either way, “the Act commandeers the legislative processes of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program.”

Printz v. United States (1997) serves as the lynchpin for the anti-commandeering doctrine.  At issue was a provision in the Brady Gun Bill that required county law enforcement officers to administer part of the background check program. Sheriffs Jay Printz and Richard Mack sued, arguing these provisions unconstitutionally forced them to administer a federal program. Justice Antonin Scalia agreed, writing in the majority opinion “it is apparent that the Brady Act purports to direct state law enforcement officers to participate, albeit only temporarily, in the administration of a federally enacted regulatory scheme.”

Citing the New York case, the court majority declared this provision of the Brady Gun Bill unconstitutional, expanding the reach of the anti-commandeering doctrine.

    We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case-by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.

Finally, the Court ruled that the federal government cannot force the states to act against their will by withholding funds in a coercive manner. In Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012), the Court held that the federal government cannot compel states to expand Medicaid by threatening to withhold funding for Medicaid programs already in place. Justice Robert Kennedy argued that allowing Congress to essentially punish states that refused to go along violates constitutional separation of powers.

    The legitimacy of Congress’s exercise of the spending power “thus rests on whether the State voluntarily and knowingly accepts the terms of the ‘contract.’ ” Pennhurst, supra, at 17. Respecting this limitation is critical to ensuring that Spending Clause legislation does not undermine the status of the States as independent sovereigns in our federal system. That system “rests on what might at first seem a counterintuitive insight, that ‘freedom is enhanced by the creation of two governments, not one.’ ” Bond, 564 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 8) (quoting Alden v. Maine, 527 U. S. 706, 758 (1999). For this reason, “the Constitution has never been understood to confer upon Congress the ability to require the States to govern according to Congress’ instructions.” New York, supra, at 162. Otherwise the two-government system established by the Framers would give way to a system that vests power in one central government, and individual liberty would suffer.

Taken together, these four cases firmly establish a legal doctrine holding that the federal government has no authority to force states to cooperate in implementing or enforcing its acts, or providing resources to its programs. It’s time to end these usurpations of the 2nd Amendment and the Constitution, whether by executive fiat or by an edict of Congress by reaching out to your State representatives and urging them to introduce and pass the 2nd Amendment Preservation Act.

 

NEXT STEPS: