Standing up to unjust laws, from sea to shining sea
In a post yesterday, we made the points that
- government exists at the pleasure of the people (and not the other way around),
- the federal government exists at the pleasure of the states (and not the other way around), and
- Wrong is wrong, and right is right, no matter what the law says.
In spite of mockery and resistance from people who support an ever-expanding, ever-more-centralized state, local and state officials are taking a stand to defend these principles.
To wit . . .
Sheriffs have risen up all over our great nation to stand up against the unconstitutional gun control measures being taken.
The following is a list of sheriffs and state sheriff’s associations from who have vowed to uphold and defend the Constitution against Obama’s unlawful gun control measures. I applaud these public servants for their courage and conviction.
I call on sheriffs all over this nation to add their voices to the growing numbers of faithful protectors of our freedom. -Richard Mack
Our final example, though not the last expression of State nullification, addresses the unconstitutional regulation of firearms and subsequent disarming of the people. Our Second Amendment clearly and definitively protects the rights of all citizens to keep and bear arms, at all times. There is absolutely no room for the federal government to interfere with that right in any way, shape, or form. Any laws written to address the illegal use of firearms must originate on the State level. In a decisive response to current attempts by the federal government to unconstitutionally insert themselves in a State issue, seven States have passed the Firearms Freedom Act and many others are currently supporting this nullifying legislation. Additionally, nine States are also working on legislation called the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which renders all federal gun laws, regulations, rules, acts, orders, etc., null and void within the borders of the state.
Nullification is not just a State issue. It is a community and individual issue as well. As of January 23, 2013, there are over 90 Sheriffs across the country that are REFUSING, in writing, to enforce any federal gun control laws, and the list is growing every day. We need to support these Sheriffs and deman that our own do the same.
This next one has less to do with nullification and standing up to unjust or unconstitutional laws, but it is related. Here we have a sheriff making two honest, albeit partially tacit, admissions to the people of his county:
1) The police don’t prevent crimes so much as they investigate crimes and lock up bad guys. Thus, you have a right and duty to protect yourself; and
2) His jurisdiction is worse off than many in terms of resources, and needs law-abiding citizens to help out.
Good for him (in spite of whatever Piers Morgan thinks)!
Finally (and somewhat apropos of an earlier post), we have the military getting into the act as well:
Protecting the Second Amendment – Why all Americans Should Be Concerned
We are current or former Army Reserve, National Guard, and active duty US Army Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets). We have all taken an oath to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same….” The Constitution of the United States is without a doubt the single greatest document in the history of mankind, codifying the fundamental principle of governmental power and authority being derived from and granted through the consent of the governed. Our Constitution established a system of governance that preserves, protects, and holds sacrosanct the individual rights and primacy of the governed as well as providing for the explicit protection of the governed from governmental tyranny and/or oppression. We have witnessed the insidious and iniquitous effects of tyranny and oppression on people all over the world. We and our forebears have embodied and personified our organizational motto, De Oppresso Liber [To Free the Oppressed], for more than a half century as we have fought, shed blood, and died in the pursuit of freedom for the oppressed.
Like you, we are also loving and caring fathers and grandfathers. Like you, we have been stunned, horrified, and angered by the tragedies of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Fort Hood, and Sandy Hook; and like you, we are searching for solutions to the problem of gun-related crimes in our society. Many of us are educators in our second careers and have a special interest to find a solution to this problem. However, unlike much of the current vox populi reactions to this tragedy, we offer a different perspective.
First, we need to set the record straight on a few things. The current debate is over so-called “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines. The terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” are often confused. According to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, “Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term [underline added for emphasis], developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of assault rifles.”
“No matter what the law is, we did what was right”
1. Government exists at the pleasure of the people.
Government exists to secure and preserve the natural rights that individuals enjoy in full measure in a state of nature. It exists to fulfill a limited set of functions that we alone cannot exclusively fulfill. It exists because we consent to its existence.
If a law is passed that violates this compact, we do not throw up our hands and say, “Oh well, that’s what the law says—we have to obey it.” If a law violates a natural right, we do not look to the law to justify the violation.
No law that violates this compact is legitimate. No government that routinely violates this compact is legitimate. Government has power only because the people give it power.
2. The federal government exists at the pleasure of the states
Centralizers may not be happy about it, but that is the fact. The states made the federal government. They agreed to form a union. They demanded a Bill of Rights. How this relationship has played out over the years has been changing, but that doesn’t change the original fact of our national construction.
A law that violates individual sovereignty is not legitimate, no matter what the law says. In the same way, if the federal government goes too far and violates state sovereignty, this too may be illegitimate. There is a line that the federal government can cross, whereby the states can simply say NO. It such a case, we do not turn to the the letter of the Constitution, we turn to a true understanding of its intent.
Which brings us to our final point . . .
3. The Constitution is not holy writ
The Constitution is a brilliant document. It was one of the first, and remains one of the best, extensions of natural human rights into a political society. The “social contract” is almost always a philosophical construction. Our Declaration and Constitution remain among the very few instances in human history where the social contract was actually signed. Anyone who reverences human rights should get the chills just thinking about it.
But the Constitution is not perfect. Forces bent on circumventing its intent have succeeded in circumventing its intent. If it were perfect, they would not have gotten away with this.
Thus, when statists cross a line and violate the sovereignty of states or individuals, it is not legitimate even if justification for the violation can somehow be wrung out of the letter of the Constitution. Similarly, resistance to such a violation is legitimate, even if stipulation for such resistance cannot be found in the letter of the Constitution.
Bottom line: Right is right, and wrong is wrong, no matter what the law says.
Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including AnyStreet.org (now a part of Western Free Press) and Liberatchik.com. He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to WesternFreePress.com.