The congressmen and executive branch bureaucrats of the District of Columbia (DC) — a.k.a. The District of Criminals — are now fully exercising arbitrary and capricious powers. While supposedly operating within a constitutional framework, their dictates are becoming more and more draconian, and often downright absurd. Their latest proposal is a “high capacity” magazine ban. I’d like to illustrate the absurdity of such proposals with an analogy:
Let’s say that you live in the mythical country of The Republic of Freedonia. Freedonia is a constitutional republic with individual rights enshrined in a much-vaunted but two-century-old Constitution. Among these rights is “freedom of speech and press.” However, the increasingly socialist Freedonian national congress is in fear of an uprising inflamed by Pamphleteers. These pamphlets cannot be traced to their anonymous authors. They include lengthy essays on liberty. So the national congress passes “reasonable” and “commonsense” speech control laws. Among these is a law limiting pamphlets to 50 words. Any pamphlet that is 50 words or less is deemed “protected speech.” But writing, printing or possessing any new pamphlet that is 51 words or longer is considered a federal felony, punishiable by fines up to $100,000 and prison sentences up to eight years. Any lengthy pamphlets that were printed before the pamphlet ban was enacted are covered under a grandfather clause, and hence still legal to possess.
Does this illustration sound absurd? It shouldn’t. Because the federal magazine ban bill that was recently introduced in congress would make it a felony to manufacture or import a magazine or belt holding 11 or more cartridges. A 10-round magazine or would be perfectly legal. But an 11-round (or larger) magazine or belt would be a felony and could subject you to fines up to $100,000 and prison sentences up to eight years.
Some of my younger readers are not old enough to remember the magazine ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004. Thankfully, that law had a 10-year Sunset Clause. But the currently proposed magazine ban does not. It would be permanent.
There is another federal law that has been on the books since 1934, and slightly modified in 1968. This law dictates:
Owning or making a shotgun with an 18″ or longer barrel is perfectly legal. But owning one with a 17.9″ or shorter barrel is a felony, unless you are willing to first pay a $200 tax, submit to fingerprinting and a background check, and get the permission of and local police chief or sheriff. You must also ask the government’s permission each time that you transport a “short-barreled shotgun” (SBS) across state lines.
Owning or making a rifle with a 16″ or longer barrel is perfectly legal. But owning one with a 15.9″ or shorter barrel is a felony, unless you are willing to first pay a $200 tax, submit to fingerprinting and a background check, and get the permission of and local police chief or sheriff. You must also ask the government’s permission each time that you transport a “short-barreled rifle” (SBR) across state lines.
All such laws by their very nature are arbitrary and capricious. (That means doing something according to one’s will or caprice and therefore abusing a position of power.) To be a caprice, there should be a clear error of judgment; an action not based upon consideration of relevant factors. And any decree should be considered arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law or if it was taken without observance of procedure required by law. See: Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. United States EPA, 966 F.2d 1292, 1297 (9th Cir. 1992).
Please contact your congressman and your state’s two U.S. Senators and insist that they oppose any and all Federal firearms laws! But in case this fails, I recommend investing in your lifetime supply of magazines. Soon.
Escaping Federal Laws?
One of the great things about living in the United States is that if you don’t like a local or state law or tax, you can move to another locale that has less regulation and/or lower taxes. I often refer to this as “voting with your feet.” But sadly, unless you want to take the extreme measure of expatriation, there is no way to truly and fully escape federal laws. nearly all of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) has been determined by the courts to be applicable to not just Federal property (per Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 as “exclusive Federal jurisdiction”) but also enforceable throughout the 50 States.
Those who would ensnare and enslave us in the hundreds of volumes of Federal regulations claim that they are merely fulfilling their mandate to legislate, as our elected “representatives”, and that these laws that they are passing — and the taxes that they extract from us to run the three branches of government — are “reasonable” and “commonsense”. And, as I illustrated in my recent essay on the proposed “Universal Background” Checks”, the Federal courts have gradually stretched the Interstate Commerce Clause to absurd proportions. Outwardly, the bulwark of codified Federal laws and agency-promulgated regulations seems almost unassailable. But as I will describe, there are some tactics that will prove to be very useful. With them, freedom-loving Citizens will be victorious, in the long run.
Just Say No
For those of us who have determined that the Federal government has overstepped its bounds, we have one sure solution: Massive Noncompliance to any unconstitutional Federal laws. If we quite vocally Just Say No to Tyranny, then they cannot prosecute and incarcerate us all. This worked in overturning the Fugitive Slave Laws. And more recently, it happed with marijuana laws. Clearly, the six-decade-long “War on Drugs” morphed into a war on civil liberty. Nearly everyone could see that. Huge segments of the population thumbed their noses at marijuana laws and simply ignored them. They just carried on with their lives the way that they wanted to, and flouted the Federal law. However, the nation’s prisons are still chock full of people who did little more than simply buy and sell marijuana. This has contributed to the U.S. having the highest incarceration rate in the world. (655 people per 100,000, at last report.) Many of those convictions were at the Federal level. But meanwhile, at the State level, marijuana has become legal medicinally and/or recreationally in 33 States. So, in the past five years, the Federal government has effectively capitulated, and they no longer pursue most Federal prosecutions of marijuana sellers. I suggest that much the same can be done for nullifying Federal gun laws. Massive noncompliance works.
I’m encouraged to see so many counties and States joining the Second Amendment Sanctuaries Movement. The map of these 2A Sanctuary jurisdictions looks like a checkerboard that is being rapidly filled in. It is noteworthy that one region that has almost completely “gone sanctuary” is The American Redoubt. This includes the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming and the eastern counties of both Oregon and Washington. Well done. The other regions of the nation should follow your example.
Lastly, I recommend that people familiarize themselves with jury nullification. When you have a free couple of hours, read through the Fully Informed Jury Association web pages. Though it is not always successful, it is one more tactic that will contribute to a strategic victory, for individual liberty.
Legalize freedom and live free, folks! – JWR
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