Is that the right course of action in every situation? Is that the only path? Or, is there another way, a less confrontational answer to the constant barrage of new and more expansive usurpation of power by a federal government seemingly bent on violating every part of the Constitution.
Thomas Jefferson referred to state-level resistance to federal acts as “nullification.” But he could just as easily have called it civil disobedience or non-compliance. A nullification of a federal act can take on all kinds of different forms. It often requires an entire puzzle – and each piece of that puzzle plays an important part. There’s education, outreach, non-compliance, and more. But nullification doesn’t always require a physical interposition by local agents – standing between you and the federal government.
And while it sure gets the testosterone boiling, an O.K. Corral-style standoff is not required, and is almost never effective. In fact, modern times shows us that the most effective nullification efforts have no such standoffs. They’ve relied almost solely on peaceful non-compliance.
Consider the state-level resistance to the 2005 Real ID act. Over the past five years, we’ve learned that a federal law can be effectively held at bay or even pushed back through non-compliance alone. There are 18 states defying Washington DC’s unconstitutional war on weed. Local sheriffs aren’t arresting DEA agents. And state legislators aren’t proposing it either. But year in and year out, more people and more states refuse to comply with the unconstitutional federal acts. As this keeps increasing, the feds keep having a harder and harder time trying to enforce their so-called laws.
As big as it is, the federal government cannot be everywhere at once enforcing its so-called “laws” and regulations; it must rely on submission, compliance or “bribery” in the form of federal grants to accomplish its goals. Without local and state government co-operation, the feds are stymied and thwarted in many, if not most, of its efforts.
The federal government most certainly needs compliance, if not outright assistance, from the states when it does its dirty deeds. Information-sharing, logistics assistance, access to infrastructure, help from sheriffs blocking roads, and the like. They can rarely pull things off without help from state and local officials.
Just ask the DEA when they come to California. They’re never able to pull off a raid of a marijuana dispensary without the help of the local sheriff or police departments. Or, look at the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. Without states shouldering the burden of operating and funding insurance exchanges, the entire act could collapse.
The fact is this: Without state compliance and assistance, many unconstitutional federal acts are little more than a house of cards. Refusing compliance on a state or local level is a big deal – and it sets the stage for others to do the same.
So, when local governments like Beaufort County North Carolina pass a resolution stating that they will not comply with federal acts, orders, rules or regulations regarding the right to keep and bear arms, this is an important part of the effort to nullify those unconstitutional federal attacks on the 2nd Amendment. And when states consider similar legislation, they can act as even bigger pieces of the puzzle.
North Dakota’s HB 1183 under consideration right now would forbid any state governmental entities from providing aid and assistance to the federal government or any other governmental entity for the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of federal firearms laws not in force as of January 1, 2013.
Virginia’s HB 2340, would, “prevent any agency, political subdivision, or employee of Virginia from assisting the Federal government of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, detention, arrest, search, or seizure, under the authority of any federal statute enacted, or Executive Order or regulation issued, after December 31, 2012, infringing the individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms by imposing new restrictions on private ownership or private transfer of firearms, firearm magazines, ammunition, or components thereof.”
State and local legislation like these that I’ve mentioned fit the description of the “moderate middle ground” that Jefferson spoke of when he advocated for nullification. These actions are also in the tradition of Gandhi and Rosa Parks — civil disobedience and non-compliance.
This kind of legislation is stating the obvious; that the federal government has exceeded its delegated powers under the Constitution and therefore, their actions are “null and void and of no force” and will not be complied with at all.
Last year, When Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall spoke in favor of HB1160, which became law and required the state to refuse compliance with NDAA “indefinite detention,” he said,
“During World War II, the federal government incarcerated tens of thousands of loyal Japanese Americans in the name of national security. By this bill, Virginia declares that it will not participate in similar modern-day efforts.”
When the federal government gives you laws, rules, regulations or orders that are not in pursuance of the Constitution – you are not bound to obey them.
In refusing to comply, we are utilizing a tool that has shown us it can be very effective. In refusing to comply, we stand on the high moral ground. In refusing to comply, we can win.
Michael Boldin contributed to this article