Ohio: GOA supports HB 99
Ohio: GOA supports HB 99
Testimony of Erich Pratt, Director of Communications
Gun Owners of America
before the Ohio House of Representatives
(October 29, 2013)
Gun Owners of America stands in support of HB 99, a bill that will protect Ohioans from having their guns illegally confiscated.
HB 99 prohibits law-enforcement officials from seizing lawfully possessed firearms under most circumstances and prohibits any federal or state official from enforcing a firearms ban or registration scheme that is not in effect on the date of enactment.
Not only is this bill consistent with the U.S. Constitution, it tracks with efforts currently taking place around the country and is definitely in line with nullification efforts in America’s history.
Many Northern states passed Personal Liberty Laws in the 1850’s which made it illegal for citizens to help return escaped slaves to their owners — and this effectively nullified the despised Fugitive Slave Act.
When the federal government begins to usurp the rights and freedoms of the American people, it’s the states which are duty-bound to step in and protect them from these abuses.
That is why HB 99 is a bill that makes sense. And the protections afforded by this bill are supported by police officers around the country … by gun owners … and, in principle, by the Founding Fathers of this country.
Law-enforcement overwhelmingly support gun rights.
According to a PoliceOne.com survey, law enforcement around the country support the right of individuals to carry guns — and they back state “interposition” efforts to protect gun owners:
- Cops back concealed carry. 91% of law-enforcement supports concealed carry of firearms by civilians who are not criminals and/or have not been deemed psychologically incapable.1
- Cops believe more guns equals less crime. 80% of police believe that legally armed citizens would likely have reduced the number of casualties in recent mass shooting incidents.2
- Cops support nullification of unconstitutional gun laws. 71% of officers say they will not enforce more restrictive gun laws within their jurisdictions.3
Gun owners want states to intercede and protect their rights.
GOA surveyed its members last year and found that a whopping 97% favor state efforts to protect its citizens from unconstitutional federal gun control laws.
Plus, there is broad support for seeing the states rein in federal abuses, as legislators in over 40 states have introduced Tenth Amendment resolutions to rebuke the federal government for usurping the powers belonging to the states.
With specific regard to the Second Amendment, Americans are sick and tired of seeing federal officials ignore the Bill of Rights and pass laws that restrict their gun rights.
In fact, a sizeable majority of Americans not only want the states to protect them from these abuses, many Americans say they simply won’t comply with federal efforts that are aimed at disarming them:
65% of Americans, according to a Fox News poll, say they would “defy” the law if the feds passed a law to “take away [their] guns.”4
And 59% of self-proclaimed liberals say they would also defy such a confiscation order. Clearly, Americans are very concerned about an overreaching federal government that could take away their guns — and this fear is well-founded.5
Confiscation of firearms is a real threat.
Politicians around the country have called for confiscating firearms from gun owners.
While some will try to deny that such a threat exists, there have been too many outspoken voices to ignore this agenda. Consider just a few well-known cases:
- “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here.”6
- “[Gun] confiscation could be an option,” declared New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview (December 27, 2012). In fact, a confidential memorandum advocating gun confiscation was circulated by New York Democrats prior to the most recent round of gun control which passed in the state.7
- “We cannot have big guns out here,” said Iowa Rep. Dan Muhlbauer. “Even if you have them, I think we need to start taking them.”8
“No one is allowed to be armed. We’re going to take all the guns,” said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of the New Orleans police, right before several law- enforcement agencies began confiscating the firearms of lawful gun owners in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (2005).9
In the mid-1960’s, officials in New York City began registering long guns. They promised they would never use such lists to take away firearms from honest citizens. But in 1991, the city banned (and soon began confiscating) many of those very guns. In 1992, a New York City paper reported that, “Police raided the home of a Staten Island man who refused to comply with the city’s tough ban on assault weapons, and seized an arsenal of firearms…. Spot checks are planned [for other homes].”10
Confiscation of firearms has already occurred in this country. It’s a real threat, and that’s why HB 99 is so important to protect the rights of Ohioans.
States should defend the Constitution from federal usurpation.
Even Alexander Hamilton, who is labeled by historians as being one of the most aggressive supporters of a central government, could not ignore the power that states wield. Hamilton wrote in Federalist 28 that:
It may safely be received as an axiom in our political system, that the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority.
Indeed, nine states have enacted Firearms Freedom Acts which exempt the state from federal gun laws regarding weapons that are made (and remain) in the state.
And more than 20 states have introduced such legislation:
Since 2009, legislators in at least 21 states have introduced their own version of the Firearms Freedom Act, arguing that the Ninth and 10th Amendments allow the states to treat the sale of firearms, ammunition and accessories as intrastate commerce, thus freeing those sales from federal oversight.11
The man who is known as the Father of the Constitution, James Madison, explained (in Federalist Paper 45) why the states have the authority to take corrective action when the federal government acts outside of its authority:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. (Emphasis added.)
Madison’s statement gets to the very heart of what federalism is. The states retain most of the civil authority, and the federal government’s role is very limited — its duties being specifically defined by the Constitution.
Not only does a search of the Constitution NOT reveal any authority to restrict gun rights, the Second Amendment clearly states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Opponents of HB 99 will claim that the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution should give Congress carte blanche, and that it invalidates bills like HB 99.
But nothing could be further from the truth. The heart of Article VI, Clause 2, states:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof . . . 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.
Notice that NOT every Congressional law is supreme law of the land; rather, only those laws that are passed “in pursuance” to — or in accordance with — the Constitution.
Alexander Hamilton pointed out that if Congress passes an unconstitutional law, then such legislation “would not be the supreme law” and would be an illegitimate taking of power.
In Federalist Paper 33, Hamilton says:
A LAW, by the very meaning of the term, includes supremacy. It is a rule which those to whom it is prescribed are bound to observe…. But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of [Congress] which are not pursuant to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the [states], will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such. Hence we perceive that the clause which declares the supremacy of the laws of the Union . . . expressly confines this supremacy to laws made pursuant to the Constitution. (Emphasis added.)12
Given that the Second Amendment precludes the federal government from infringing upon gun rights, state legislators do NOT act lawlessly when they protect their citizens from laws which cannot be viewed as “supreme law.”
More historical precedents for vetoing unconstitutional laws.
What Ohio is contemplating, through HB 99, is certainly no different than what Virginia and Kentucky did in 1798, when a firestorm developed after the passage of the Alien and Sedition.
Taken together, these laws allowed President John Adams to deport certain immigrants and to punish newspaper writers who criticized his administration.
Political foes saw the legislation as a raw power grab where Congress was giving the President the illegitimate means to punish his political enemies.
The response from opponents was quick and precise. Virginia and Kentucky issued formal protests, challenging Congress to repeal the legislation. But that was not all.
James Madison (writing for Virginia) and Thomas Jefferson (writing for Kentucky) both said that states were also duty bound to cancel unconstitutional laws within their borders.
“Where powers are assumed [by the federal government] which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy,” Jefferson said. “Every state has a natural right… to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits.”
Madison did not mince words either while penning the Virginia Resolutions of 1798. He said that when faced with harmful encroachments by the federal government, the states “are in duty bound, to interpose, for arresting the progress of evil.
And so, for all the foregoing reasons, Gun Owners of America encourages the Ohio House of Representatives to protect the rights of its gun-owning citizens and to vote for HB 99.
1 PoliceOne.com survey of 15,595 law enforcement professionals about U.S. gun control policies (March 2013).
4 Fox News, January 2013.
6 Sen. Dianne Feinstein on “60 Minutes,” CBS News (February 5, 1995)
7 “NY Democrat please with Republican not to share document proposing confiscation of guns,” The Commentator (January 20, 2013). See http://tinyurl.com/bg7q3jy
8 Interview with the Iowa Daily Times Herald, December 19, 2012.
9 On August 16, 1991, New York City Mayor David Dinkins signed Local Law 78 which banned the possession and sale of certain rifles and shotguns.
10 John Marzulli, “Weapons ban defied: S.I. man, arsenal seized,” Daily News (September 5, 1992).
11 See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25firearms-freedom-act_n_2552385.html
12 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Paper 33.