ATF says federal law trumps state firearms act

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 2:31pm

The federal government has warned Tennessee’s gun dealers that the state’s new so-called Firearms Freedom Act is meaningless, outraging Second Amendment advocates.

Tennessee Firearms Association director John Harris urged his members to bombard Congress with complaints. “The government’s grown to the point where it thinks it’s King George,” he said.

The law, one of the main conservative achievements of this year’s legislative session, purports to bar federal regulation of made-in-Tennessee firearms and ammunition. One sponsor, Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, appeared on the Glenn Beck show during the session to celebrate the law’s passage.

"You know, it's like the federal government needs to keep their hands off," Beavers declared.

But in a letter to the state’s roughly 1,000 federal firearms licensees, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said “because the Act conflicts with federal firearms laws and regulations, federal law supersedes the Act” and all provisions of federal law and regulations “continue to apply.” That means, in part, that firearms dealers must continue to conduct criminal background checks of gun purchasers.

“Essentially, ATF is saying to the state of Tennessee that the 10th Amendment no longer exists,” the Tennessee Firearms Association states on its website. “We expected such from a tyranny that no longer lives within the bounds of its express authority.”

In an interview with the City Paper, Harris said his association doesn’t recommend that gun dealers violate federal law in acts of civil disobedience.

“There are other ways to resist,” he said, “for example flooding the ATF with requests for exemptions, flooding Congress with complaints that the ATF is abusing its authority under the Constitution and writing to next governor and legislature and saying we want the attorney general and governor to stand up for Tennessee’s rights and demand that the ATF back off this letter.”

The law passed the legislature this session overwhelmingly—22-7 in the Senate and 87-1 in the House. It neatly combined both of the latest conservative causes: states’ rights and gun rights. At least two other states—Alaska and Montana—have enacted similar statutes.

During the Senate debate, Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, warned the law might confuse gun dealers who then might unwittingly break federal regulations.

“Someone’s going to read it, someone’s going to think they can do it and someone’s going to have an ATF officer in a blue windbreaker one day knocking on their door and asking them what they’re doing,” Kyle said. “This is a political statement. … There comes a point where you can take making your statements too far. Making this law is too far.”

But Beavers said the law was necessary “to prevent a federal attempt to legislate beyond the constitutional limits of Congress.”

“The federal government has overstepped its boundaries in telling us what we can do with our interstate commerce,” she said. “If guns are made in Tennessee, we propose that the federal government doesn’t have any right to tell us what to do with those.”

12 Comments on this post:

By: slzy on 9/23/09 at 12:38

is'nt this something for the courts to decide,instead of another bloated federal agency?

By: idgaf on 9/23/09 at 12:59

We need to take our government back or we will lose all claim to it.

Barry will own everything by time his first term is up thanks to people like Bart Gordon and Jim Cooper.

By: BlakeW on 9/23/09 at 2:38

I will have to say, even though this story should have been written in July (when the letter was released and covered on blogs), it does present the facts and statements much better than it would have if it were written by the same author in the Scene. No crazy hysterics.No drunken style rants. No hit pieces on people for no apparent reasons (other than to do favors for political friends).

I've been impressed lately. Keep up the good work.

By: Bo_Jangles on 9/23/09 at 2:51

This law proves that HILLBILLIES are still alive and well in TN and it's legislature.

By: trtay2004 on 9/23/09 at 3:06

Yay! I was afraid criminals were going to bombard our state and make us a heavier crime state.

By: truthtold on 9/24/09 at 4:32

This is what happens when the Federal Government gets out of control. Great site to learn about our Government. This is the best video I have ever seen. About 10 minutes long.

By: Kosh III on 9/24/09 at 6:33

The issue of States Rights was settled in 1865 when the treasonous rebels surrendered.
Get over it.

By: MetalMan on 9/24/09 at 6:45

Tennesseans have certain constitutionally-guaranteed rights, including the right to exercise state sovereignty. The Federal Government, especially under our Muslim president, has gotten entirely too oppressive. We should collaborate with other states such as Texas and collectively demand our sovereign rights or secede. We have no congressional representation; Milquetoasts Cooper and Gordon don’t represent us; they are just minions in King Barry’s little puppet court. Alexander and Corker are only marginally better. Therefore, we the people of Tennessee need to act for ourselves and act decisively for the sake of our state, our families and our future generations.

By: sidneyames on 9/24/09 at 7:10

And Metalman, did you hear Kadafi's speech (spelled?) when he stated that Obama is his son? OMG I almost croaked.

By: EquinsuOcha on 9/24/09 at 8:14

well they do favor.........

By: pswindle on 9/24/09 at 9:52

John Harris you think that you are "KIng George." The damage that you and your NRA money has done to Tennessee is unbelievable.

By: pswindle on 9/24/09 at 11:39

MentalMan President Obama is a christian. How can you call yourself an American when you have no respect for our President or our country? Your GOP views are eating you alive. TN does not matter anymore in national elections because the Supreme Court removed us from the mix back in 2000.