According to Matt Collins, Vice-Chair of the Davidson County Republican Party, “We have a looming battle which could possibly result in a Constitutional crisis here in TN. Apparently the ATF sent out a letter to Tennesseans late last week addressing the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act.” (You can view the letter below) John Harris, Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association states, “This is an issue that TFA is working on with the legislative sponsors. We are evaluating the options and working to coordinate a strategy involving all of the states involved.”
(a mirror backup of the image is here in case the one above exceeds its bandwidth or isn’t visible)
This letter is in reference to the TN Firearms Freedom Act (TFFA) recently passed into law by the TN General Assembly. Essentially the TFFA explains 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 the TFFA 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. The TFFA also states that firearms accessories imported into Tennessee that are subject to federal regulation do not subject a firearm to federal regulation under interstate commerce simply because they are attached to or used in conjunction with a firearm in Tennessee.
From the TFFA itself: “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;“
As the TFFA points out the federal government has no Constitutional authority to “regulate” such issues even though it is a common misconception that it does. The Constitution says Congress can “regulate interstate commerce” (ICC) however…
1- The Constitution only grants Congress the authority to regulate “inter-state commerce”, but not in the manner most would think (see #2 below). Court rulings disregarding the Constitution have declared that ‘actions, goods, and services which have an effect on interstate commerce qualify as interstate commerce, thus the federal government can regulate it’. These court cases have erroneously given the federal government carte blanche power over anything it remotely considers might maybe possibly could potentially have an effect on interstate commerce. The fallacy of stare decisis is that the founding document of the federal government is usually ignored in favor of previous court rulings despite whether or not those rulings are actually in harmony with the Constitution. Most of the rulings involving the Interstate Commerce Clause are indeed NOT in harmony with the Constitution but are instead based upon previous erroneous rulings. The ATF letter ignores the fact that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land as the Supremacy Clause wins out over the Courts each and every time. In other words it is irrelevant what the Courts say the federal government is allowed to do if it is not congruent with the Constitution. If they issue a ruling contrary to the Constitution the courts are wrong! Or just because the Courts opine that an action of the federal government is Constitutional, doesn’t necessarily make it so.
Establishing federal policies on rulings contrary to the Constitution is not only a tragic perversion of our Constitutional Republic, but it is a short cut to tyrannical authoritarian government. The federal government is (supposed to be) one of enumerated and limited powers. The issue at hand is not about ‘gun rights’ as it appears on the surface, it’s instead about the federal government usurping powers not delegated to it, by way of the judiciary “loosely” “interpreting” the Constitution. Multitudes of big-government and unconstitutional usurpation is the result which traces its “legitimacy” to false rulings and precedent — the twisting and misconstruing of the ICC within the last 110 years is a prime example.
2- Besides the previous point (#1), which is enough on its own to label the ATF clearly on the wrong side of the Constitution, there is an issue of linguistics. Anyone who has studied the Constitution, how it came together, and the writings of the Founders, realizes that the phrase “to regulate” had a different meaning at the time it was written than it does today. Many ancillary writings of the Founders described it as “to make regular” or “to normalize” or “to make uniform”. Because in the 1770’s there were trade wars, currency differences, and import tariffs across state boundaries etc, Congress wanted to ensure that commerce was regular among the States. Therefore even if the issue at hand was indeed about crossing State lines (which it is not), the ICC would have no effect because the States, through the Constitution, did not give the federal government the power to control commerce across borders; only to make commerce consistent or regular. This is also an example of why seeking original intent is a fallacy, and “original meaning of the words at the time they were written” is the best way to seek understanding of the Constitution.
The arrogance of the federal BATF, an organization which is prima facie unconstitutional, is striking because there is no enumerated authority in the Constitution for its existence. But it incorrectly argues that because there is a conflict in the law, de jure, the federal government automatically trumps. This is patently false because the States created the federal government delegating enumerated powers to it; the creator is always held to be more powerful than the created. The BATF also mentions incorrectly that the federal government has jurisdiction on this matter inside the State of TN. I would like for them to cite where in the US Constitution this is written? Interstate commerce is NOT the same thing as intrastate commerce.
It does not take a legal scholar or a Supreme Court to recognize when the federal government is breaking the law and ignoring the Constitution. Primarily a firm grasp of Article 1 Section 8 in the Constitution, followed by the 9th and 10th Amendments will allow for most individuals to have an understanding of how the federal government is out of bounds with regard to many activities it undertakes in the modern era.