SB 89 has been introduced in the South Dakota Legislature to begin the process of resuming state’s rights with regard to firearms. For too long, the people and the states have allowed the federal government to usurp authority that rightly belongs to the states and the people to regulate things like firearms.
Ignoring Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution and the Tenth Amendment egregiously since the days of FDR, the federal government has perverted parts of the Constitution like the General Welfare Clause and the Commerce Clause to negate and nullify other portions of the Constitution. The days of such activity are now numbered as many states are moving forward to re-assume their rights with regard to government health care systems, firearms and more.
Firearms Freedom Acts are popping up across the country to tell the federal government to keep its paws off firearms and ammunition manufactured and sold within that state. The Firearms Freedom Act website indicates two states have passed such laws (with Montana having been the first), and about 20 states in the process of working on such acts.
With the opening of the 2010 legislative session in South Dakota, our state has become the latest to join the movement. A host of South Dakota legislators have already signed onto SB 89 as sponsors, including some liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. Only one candidate for South Dakota governor from the legislature has signed on to sponsor the bill, however: Dist. 30 state Senator Gordon Howie. Democrat Senator Scott Heidepriem and Republican Senator Dave Knudson have not; Republican Lt Gov Dennis Daugaard is technically a member of the state Senate, as he presides over it, but I do not believe he is permitted to sign on as a sponsor to bills.
The Argus Leader provides some information about SB 89 today:
Firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition manufactured here would not be subject to federal regulations if those items remain within the borders of South Dakota. Any firearms produced here would need to be stamped “Made in South Dakota,” and the provision applies to firearms, accessories and ammunition produced and retained within the state after July 1.
The measure doesn’t apply to automatic weapons, crew-served weapons or exploding ammunition. Even so, it’s a direct challenge to federal authority over firearms. Congress regulates interstate commerce under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause – an avenue that allows for federal regulation of firearms and ammunition.
The South Dakota bill rejects that power, however, stating that firearms and ammunition that have not left the state are not part of interstate commerce. The broader issue, Rhoden and other supporters say, centers on the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers not delegated to the federal government to the states or people.
Will the federal government fight this sooner or later? Almost certainly. Should we do it anyway? You bet! Just because you know a tyrant will come after you for asserting your liberty doesn’t mean you should remain subservient to that tyrant.
Our Constitution was clearly drawn to confine the federal government to a set of few, limited, specific powers. The modern trend of twisting constitutional clauses out of shape to justify power grabs would have appalled the founders, and it has to end.
As if our Constitution was not clear enough in and of itself, the founders in their own personal statements made it clear that the powers of the federal government are few and limited:
I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.’ To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition. – Thomas Jefferson
[The purpose of a written constitution is] to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights. – Thomas Jefferson
Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. – Thomas Jefferson
I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. – James Madison
[T]he Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution. But this doctrine is not deducible from any circumstance peculiar to the plan of convention, but from the general theory of a limited Constitution. – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 81, 1788
The Constitution says, “Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, &c., provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States”. I suppose the meaning of this clause to be, that Congress may collect taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare, in those cases wherein the Constitution empowers them to act for the general welfare. To suppose that it was meant to give them a distinct substantive power, to do any act which might tend to the general welfare, is to render all the enumerations useless, and to make their powers unlimited. – Thomas Jefferson
Our tenet ever was…that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated, and that, as it was never meant that they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money. – Thomas Jefferson
They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please…Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect. – Thomas Jefferson
Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated. – Thomas Jefferson
[Congressional jurisdiction of power] is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.” – James Madison
If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions. – James Madison
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined . . . to be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.” – James Madison
With respect to the two words ‘ general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. – James Madison
We must confine ourselves to the powers described in the Constitution, and the moment we pass it, we take an arbitrary stride towards a despotic Government. – James Jackson, First Congress
A wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. – Thomas Jefferson
The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If `Thou shalt not covet’ and `Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free. – John Adams, A Defense of the American Constitutions 1787
I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. – James Madison
Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government. – James Madison
If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress. … Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America. – James Madison
Just as there can be no doubt that our federal government was intended to be a limited one confined primarily to external concerns and refereeing things like interstate commerce, there is also no doubt that the founders crafted our constitution in this manner because they understood the dangerous threat to freedom that comes from powerful, unrestrained government.
We the American people have grown lazy and indifferent to those dangers over the last century, and we are now paying a price for our disengagement. But thankfully millions of Americans have awakened to the threat in the last year, and are mobilized to take this nation back to a level of freedom we have not known for more than 70 years.
A people fearlessly working to assert their God-given freedom is a beautiful thing to behold!
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