What others say: Gun control struggle a constitutional one

Didn’t we fight the Civil War over whether federal law prevails over states’ rights?

Now, conservative lawmakers in several states are attempting to organize defiance of certain federal laws, beginning with gun control. Their idea is that if enough states band together, they can overwhelm Uncle Sam’s enforcement power.

A measure introduced last week in the Missouri Legislature seeks to prevent some federal gun control regulations from being enforced. State law enforcement officers who attempt to enforce the federal rules would be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

That body came within one vote of passing a similar measure last year. This year’s proposal, The Associated Press reported, delays the effective date of the rebellious rules to give other states time to join the cause.

Sounding for all the world like a Confederate organizer, one Missouri senator said, “We continue to see the federal government overreach their rightful bounds, and if we can create a situation where we have some unity among states, then I think it puts us in a better position to make that argument.”

Courts have consistently ruled that states do not have the power to nullify federal laws, but that doesn’t keep the restless from trying.

Last year, for example, a federal appeals court struck down a 2009 Montana law that would bar federal regulation of guns that are made in that state and which remain within its borders.

Open defiance is not the right path. The proper arena for this struggle is neither Fort Sumter nor the Supreme Court, but Congress. Obviously, many Americans sympathize with the objection to gun control laws, so let their elected representatives sort this out, using the procedure spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.

— The Paris (Tenn.) Post-Intelligencer,

Jan. 13

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