Today Wyoming became the latest state to enact a Firearms Freedom act, following close on the heels of South Dakota where the governor signed a similar act last week. Oklahoma’s version has passed both houses of its legislature with large majorities and is expected to be signed soon. Five other states have already passed similar acts and 24 more have acts pending or ready to be introduced.
These acts declare that the federal government has no jurisdiction to regulate the manufacture and sales of firearms or ammunition within a state, so long as those activities do not cross state lines, causing them to enter federal jurisdiction under the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. The Wyoming law includes a $2000 fine and a year in prison for any federal official attempting to interfere with gun rights under the law within the state.
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms has disputed the validity of these laws on the basis that they are in conflict with federal firearms laws, asserting that federal regulations supersede state law even if the activities are kept within the state.
The Montana version of the FFA is being tested in federal court. If it is upheld as constitutional these laws may be the first step in the efforts of many state governments to reassert control over areas of governance where authority has been ceded to the federal government over the years. If the law is struck down as unconstitutional other states plan to also file suit over the issue.
If these firearms freedom laws succeed many states have similar legislation pending to assert other rights under the 10th Amendment with the ultimate goal of challenging the ability of the federal government to impose unfunded mandates and unpopular programs on the states against their will.