What if anyone could stockpile any weapons they wanted, as long as they were made in North Carolina? Representative Glen Bradley seems to believe you should have that right.
Rep. Bradley is a new member of the North Carolina House, winning election with only 51% of the vote. Nevertheless, he has been busy in the house. He's the primary sponsor on five bills that contain invoke the word "freedom" more than Mel Gibson in Braveheart. One of these bills, House Bill 241, would make "a personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition" fully manufactured within the borders of the State of North Carolina not subject to federal law.
As long as a firearm has the words "Made in North Carolina" "clearly stamped on a central metallic part" and on the packaging, and as long as all parts were manufactured in the state of North Carolina, said firearm can be sold and owned in North Carolina. Even if it is an incredibly dangerous firearm outlawed by federal law, HB 241 makes all personal firearms completely manufactured in NC legal.
Now, a closer reading of the bill shows that Rep. Bradley's enthusiasm for the Second Amendment is not as extreme as it could be. For example, the bill does not legalize "A firearm that cannot be carried and used by one person." However, this bill – and other bills that Rep. Bradley sponsors – contains a very extreme reading of the Tenth Amendment.
As you know, the Tenth Amendment reads "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." Rep. Bradley’s interpretation of the Tenth Amendment vis-à-vis intrastate commerce, as outlined in his HB 240 (Intrastate Commerce Act), is as follows:
"During the Constitutional Convention, the Founders considered a plan which would have authorized the federal government to regulate not only commerce among the several states, but also any activity having spillover effects across state lines. They rejected it."
Rep. Bradley’s bill isn’t scary because it’s about guns. It’s scary because it’s the latest of many Republican efforts to nullify the power of the federal government. HB 241 gives insight into why guns are an important part of this position:
"The Federalist Papers (specifically Madison #46 and Hamilton #29), as well as the entire history of the ratification of the Second Amendment, reveal that the right to bear arms was primarily intended as the sole means of defense and as a hedge against the potential tyranny of an overreaching Federal Government."
Rep. Bradley shares his views with a crowd that wants to dismantle Federal Government as we know it. According to his twitter feed, "I was politically apathetic until encountering Congressman Ron Paul in 2007, now I'm full speed ahead!" With this set of bills he joins Republicans like Texas Governor Rick Perry and erstwhile presidential candidate Tom Tancredo. Tancredo, as you may remember, told Glenn Beck during his Colorado gubernatorial campaign that he wanted to work with Gov. Perry and other Governors to jump-start a "Tenth Amendment revolution."
Luckily for the people of North Carolina, the extremists who advocate for the Tenth Amendment position often fail. Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence makes it clear that this argument has been made, unsuccessfully, many times in the past:
The idea that states can unilaterally "opt out" of federal law is not new. Its ancestors range from the 18th century Anti-Federalist opponents of the Constitution, who thought only the states should have the power to regulate commerce, to John C. Calhoun’s nullification doctrine that led to the Civil War, to Governor George Wallace standing in the doorway defying the Attorney General of the United States, who was enforcing a federal order requiring the enrollment of black students at the University of Alabama.
To be plain, a Tenth Amendment Revolution in terms of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution is unconstitutional. The most recent Supreme Court case to address this issue is Gonzales v. Raich, which reasserts the supremacy of the Commerce Clause over intrastate commerce. Rep. Bradley is so extreme that he disagrees with Justice Scalia. In Gonzales, Scalia is talking about regulation of narcotics, not guns, but the point is clear:
Congress has undertaken to extinguish the interstate market in Schedule I controlled substances, including marijuana. The Commerce Clause unquestionably permits this. The power to regulate interstate commerce "extends not only to those regulations which aid, foster and protect the commerce, but embraces those which prohibit it." To effectuate its objective, Congress has prohibited almost all intrastate activities related to Schedule I substances - both economic activities (manufacture, distribution, possession with the intent to distribute) and noneconomic activities (simple possession)....
By this measure, I think the regulation must be sustained. Not only is it impossible to distinguish "controlled substances manufactured and distributed intrastate" from "controlled substances manufactured and distributed interstate," but it hardly makes sense to speak in such terms. Drugs like marijuana are fungible commodities....
To paraphrase Justice Scalia, not only is it impossible to distinguish intrastate from interstate, it hardly makes sense to speak in such terms. The Supremacy Clause makes Federal Law the law of the land, in spite of any bill that the NCGA passes. AG Roy Cooper and Governor Bev Perdue made that clear last week.
For someone who claims that we need to restore "strict and equal obedience to the US Constitution," Rep. Bradley is making a mockery of the Constitution. Like we learned on HB2, the laws of our nation aren't an e-mail list – you can’t opt out when you don’t like what you hear.
BlueNC is dedicated to making North Carolina a more progressive and prosperous state. If your intention is to disrupt this effort, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.