November 16, 2009

A Tapestry of Issues for the Tenth Amendment

Justin Katz

The Tenth Amendment, for those who need reminding, reads as follows:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people

It's conceivable that a partial explanation for the states' permitting the erosion of this protection may be found in the ideological diversity of the nation. Massachusetts may not have much interest in protecting Texan sodomy laws that it finds extreme, and South Dakota would have no direct interest in protecting Rhode Island's shoreline rights.

Travis Kavulla's National Review article on Montana's enthusiasm for the Second Amendment, however, makes me wonder whether it would be possible to knit together a Tenth Amendment revival on a patchwork of issues:

LONG has Montana been enthusiastic on the subject of guns, but the Montana Firearms Freedom Act takes the cake.

Passed this spring by the state legislature, a group of folks who meet for 90 days every other year, the law declares that any weapon or round of ammunition made in Montana and remaining within state borders "is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce." This bold declaration of independence became law October 1, though even before then the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms had sent out a memorandum to gun dealers, the summary of which was: Don't even think about it. A lawsuit is pending.

A nearly identical piece of legislation had been defeated in the 2005 and 2007 sessions of the legislature, but this year a groundswell of public anxiety about federal regulation of guns led to votes that were not even close. The act won passage 85-14 in the house and 29-21 in the senate, with many Democrats--most of them town-dwelling folk--lining up behind their country brothers and voting "yea."

The commerce clause is one of the chief mechanisms whereby the federal government has expanded its power over the states, and one needn't believe as heartily in the right to bear arms as the typical Montanan to be able to find some local issue that piques one's anger. A concerted movement might be able to find an issue in each of the fifty states that could spur similar legislation.

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What I think is most ironic about this is the founding fathers would probably be aghast over the trampling that the 10th Amendment has taken. They probably never thought the federal government would have as much power over the states as they do now.

Also, I believe they themselves would disagree with the 2nd Amendment now. It was put in place so people could defend themselves against marauders (ie. Indians or Native Americans) and wild animals. That's not quite as much of a concern any more.

I'm all for someone's right to bear arms as long as it's in the Constitution, though I'm not convinced of its need to be there any more.

I just think it's ironic in this Montana case and how I feel the founding fathers would feel about the intermingling of the 2nd and 10th amendments here.

Posted by: Patrick at November 17, 2009 7:46 AM

Hey Patrick, Maybe you don't think the second amendment is important but I and many others sure do. "A people with guns are citizens, a people without guns are subjects". Wise up there subject, it was design to defend against a tyrantical government too.

Posted by: Defender of Freedom at November 17, 2009 8:57 AM

Patrick-if you don't think the 2nd Amendment is necessary,then don't purchase a firearm.But don't tell me what I should think is necessary.If we want to get into which of the first ten amendments are "necessary"things could get pretty screwed up.The constant attempts to eviscerate the 2nd amendment by the social engineering leftists has bought them nothing but hatred and resentment.They ought to remember that when they're sucking down their brunch onthe West Side of Manhattan and in LA's posher areas,or shopping for granola crunch in Whole Foods.(Actually Whole Foods has some good products).

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 17, 2009 9:35 AM

Hey, chill out:

"Wise up there subject"

How do you know I don't own a gun? I never said whether I do.

"But don't tell me what I should think is necessary"

Where did I tell you what to think? I intentionally and blatantly used "I think" and "I believe". Am I not allowed to do that now? Ok, so you're pro-second amendment but anti-first amendment now?

I also said that I fully support your right to have a gun. I guess you missed that part too, eh?

Yes, the horse has left the barn on the gun rights. There's no way they can be taken away now without shutting down every possible manufacturer of guns. Impossible.

Other countries don't have a right to bear arms and many people don't carry the weapons. The reason we have so many guns in this country is because of the second amendment. If that wasn't there, it's very possible that there wouldn't be so many guns, legal and illegal, and there wouldn't be as many situations that you describe where I need you to protect me with your gun.

But like I said, these are just my opinions, you're free to think and say anything you want, and I agree that there's no way anyone can or will ever take away the right to bear arms in the US. It's too late for that.

I know you guys are all fired up about this topic, but you're sending your anger in the wrong direction. Direct it at the people who do want to take your guns away.

Posted by: Patrick at November 17, 2009 11:31 AM

Patrick-my anger has been directed at gun-grabbers for decades,even though I HAD to carry a firearm for 31 years all told.Now I do so by choice.And BTW I would be able to protect you if you were in a situation where I could see you needed the help immediately.
I am a vsry strong supporter of the first amendment.The second amendment insures the first,not the ACLU.
The world has witnessed far too many horror stories where a disartmed populace was slaughtered without means to resist.China,Rwanda,Cambodia,the Jews(and most of them never learned the lesson),the Russians,etc.Pretty bad stuff,and if you trust the government to NEVER do such a thing here,I feel sorry for you.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 17, 2009 2:26 PM

The founders had long vision and a deep sense of human nature when they wrote the constitution. As abhored as they might be if they suddenly rose from the ashes, I think it is more likely they would consider their vision validated.

In so far as guns are concerned. The threats of the late 18th century may be gone, but other similar threats to liberty still exist. It is frightening how much crime has gone up in Cranston just in the last year. If carjacking, vandalism, gang violence are not a threat to liberty, I don't know what is.

This takes me back to the discussion on the possibility of civil war in this country. There is a deep divide between the growing number of people angry over the march away from freedom, and toward statism, and the still great number of people who swear grateful allegiance to the new "State" that feeds them.

If that growing number of angry patriots does not grow to a force sufficient to peacefully turn things around, we will need to be armed and prepared to defend liberty, family and property against the inevitable angry mob that will grow out from those who loyally depend on a "State" that is destined to fail.

Posted by: George at November 17, 2009 5:03 PM

We can take control of the House of Representatives to restore the 10th Amendment in the next election cycle. To see how, visit:

Posted by: James Bowery at November 26, 2009 8:24 PM
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