Nullification, Here We Come

“Unite the country” may be the three scariest words coming out of Washington, D.C. right now. Conform or be crushed is what they mean. Thankfully, Second Amendment sanctuary state efforts are drawing bold lines against federal encroachment.

Missouri is close to nullifying federal gun control within its borders. On Tuesday, the Missouri House overwhelmingly passed the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” which prohibits public officers, state employees, and political subdivisions from enforcing federal acts, laws, executive orders, court orders, and other edicts that transgress the right to bear arms.

The Tenth Amendment Center, the premier think tank for nullification advocacy, calls this legislation “a major step” toward stopping “past, present, and future” federal gun control.

It’s also a major step toward healing, reconciliation, and unity for the whole country.

Yes, really! 

Just like so many states took their own side on policy questions involving marijuana prohibition, civil asset forfeiture, and illegal immigration, many will also follow Missouri’s lead on gun control.

In addition to Missouri, other versions of the Second Amendment Preservation Act are currently under consideration in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming, to say nothing of dozens of local resolutions and ordinances. County sheriffs are doing their part as well.

Missouri’s bill would block enforcement of special taxes and fees on firearms, accessories, and ammunition. Other “infringements” listed in the legislation include registration and tracking of firearms, accessories, or ammunition.

To ensure accountability, any state employee who violates this sanctuary state law would be open to civil lawsuits and damages. Furthermore, the bill removes the possibility of a state employee claiming “sovereign, official, or qualified immunity” as a defense.

One failed amendment would have denied state employment to any federal law enforcement officer who infringed on a Missourian’s right to own and bear arms. The bill would be better with this provision, but as a whole, it’s a major step in the right direction.

Even symbolic or theatrical political gestures are better than nothing, especially at the most local level where a resolution or declaration may serve as the basis for building support for state-level action.  

But what does any of this have to do with uniting the country? Aren’t we told by our betters that firearm freedom is too divisive and that we should leave it to Congress to force a “compromise” on us all? 

It should be obvious that a so-called compromise would only embitter the people and deepen the divisions of the nation further. The evidence is glaring every presidential election cycle, and midterms don’t offer much of a break either.

Republican or Democrat, well-intentioned or not, any federal politician proposing new policies or laws to “unify” America either should be ignored or resisted energetically. That’s not because unity is an unworthy or unworkable goal. Quite the contrary.

The reality is, the federal government is a consolidating force, not a unifying one. An effective federal government is the consequence of unity, not the source of it.

Taking too much power from those smaller components to give to a central authority risks pitting the former against each other in competition for control over the latter.

True unity, then, begins with mutual respect among the 50 states for what’s their own and what’s held in common.

The primary political question before us today is not how to unify the peoples and states. It’s how will they earn or command each other’s respect.

The “more perfect union” envisioned by the U.S. Constitution took as essential the delimiting of powers not just between the branches of the federal government, but the states and the federal government as well. How off-balance that sharing of powers has become.

Don’t expect Congress, the president, or even the Supreme Court to undo more than a century of federal overreach. It’s going to take serious disruption to return to the spirit and letter of the 10th Amendment, which rounds out the Bill of Rights to say: “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.”

Enforcing that cornerstone of the Constitution must be done locally. Recent history proves this most clearly in the case of nullifying federal marijuana prohibition. Persistent non-compliance ultimately renders the feds impotent.

The Second Amendment issue may be divisive in a national sense, but the beauty of America is that it doesn’t have to be a wedge in every community across the land. 

More than 23 million guns were sold in the United States in 2020, with 5 million new gun owners among them. In January, more than 2 million guns were sold. According to industry reports, a large chunk of first-time gun buyers were black women. Gun culture is growing and changing, so the issue is ripe for a populist appeal that says the people should decide the level of gun control in their community, not some ATF agent.

Joe Biden called for unity in his inaugural address. He said unity would be how we would save all life on the planet from destruction and defeat white supremacy. The man is full of malarkey.

Republicans in Congress at least limit themselves to election reform in terms of how they envision uniting the country. But even in that context, unity is just another fluffy word for a feel-good soundbite.

Uniting the country will have to wait until there’s more unity in our communities and states. When states are no longer derelict in their duty to stand up to the monopolistic federal government, we will have a fighting chance.

About Gavin Wax

Gavin Wax is the 74th president of the New York Young Republican Club, chairman of the Association of Young Republican Clubs, digital director of the Young Republican National Federation, an ambassador for Turning Point USA, and an associate fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.

Photo: Sergey Lykov/EyeEm

Support Free & Independent Journalism Your support helps protect our independence so that American Greatness can keep delivering top-quality, independent journalism that's free to everyone. Every contribution, however big or small, helps secure our future. If you can, please consider a recurring monthly donation.

Want news updates?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

Comments are closed.