Brace yourself: You're about to become a felon
In January 2023, the attorney general, Merrick Garland, signed ATF final rule 2021R-08F (the Rule), which calls for the registration of pistol braces in furtherance of the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. The Rule is wholly unconstitutional and fraudulently established. In this post, I will break down both the unconstitutionality of the Rule and the fraudulent basis upon which it has been established.
Let's start with the Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment. Without the Bill of Rights, we would not have a United States today.
When the newly adopted Constitution was sent from Philadelphia to the States for ratification, it faced serious challenges. One of the most contentious issues was the absence of a Bill of Rights. What became known as the Massachusetts Compromise, advanced by none other than John Hancock, offered a solution: in the first congress after the ratification of the Constitution, Congress would propose a Bill of Rights. Twelve amendments were sent to the States for ratification. Ten were ratified. (One was ratified in 1992; the other is still before the states.)
It is a common misconception that the Bill of Rights grants certain rights to citizens. It does no such thing. The Bill of Rights recognizes God-given, inalienable rights. What, then, is an inalienable right? An inalienable right is an intrinsic liberty, granted to you by God that creates no countervailing obligation on another. Inalienable rights are symmetrical: I recognize them in you, and you recognize them in me.
The Second Amendment is clearly one such right, as the right to self-defense is absolute. Make no mistake: the Second Amendment is not about hunting, or plinking. It's about repelling intruders and tyrants with deadly force. The origins of the Second Amendment can be traced specifically to April 19, 1775, when the British Crown took its tyranny one step too far; it marched on Lexington and Concord, seeking to confiscate the arms and ammunition of the colonists.
The Bill of Rights, by simply serving to articulate some of our God-given rights, puts the government on notice that none of these rights may be truncated in any way, irrespective of any government's incessant desires to do so — be it on guns, protest, or speech. The government has exactly zero standing on any of these issues.
Thomas Jefferson included among his delineated grievances in the Declaration of Independence this:
He has erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass the people and eat out their substance.
I refer to this as the "I hate bureaucrats clause." The founders so despised bureaucrats that the first thing the framers did in crafting the Constitution was make it clear, in Article One, Section One, in which branch of government laws were to be made. They wrote this:
All legislative Powers herein grated shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
So only Congress can make laws, and Congress can make laws only as it pertains to the items ceded to the central government by the states, which are all contained in Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution. Section Eight does not include any power ceded to the central government by the states regarding guns. Moreover, as it pertains to guns, there is a strict hands-off policy. The Second Amendment says this:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the Right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Pretty clear stuff. So if Congress can make no laws pertaining to guns, then how could the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) possibly be able to do so? Oh, I know: they call them regulations, or rules. But if you can go to jail for ten years and face a $250,000 fine, it's a law. Wholly unconstitutional, but a law.
The new "Rule" being advanced by the ATF violates (at least) Article One, Sections One and Eight and the Second Amendment of the Constitution.
The fraudulent basis by which the ATF's unconstitutional overreach is being advanced is multifold. Let's go to the initial legislation: the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA or the Act).
If one were to listen to the state media, one would conclude that the Act made it illegal to own machine guns. It does no such thing. In 1934, the excuse that Congress used to disarm law-abiding citizens was the gangland killings of Chicago and the mayhem created by the likes of John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde. However, in 1934, Congress had a modicum more respect for the Constitution than does Congress today, and the lawmakers realized that the Second Amendment prohibited them from an outright ban on firearms.
However, this was the era of the New Deal. The scheme that the Roosevelt administration used, at the recommendation of the Supreme Court, was to cloak programs as taxes, and the Court would look upon those programs favorably. It was blatantly unconstitutional advice, as all of the powers ceded to the central government are contained in Article One, Section Eight, and calling something a tax does not change that.
So what was the intent of the Act? The original intent was twofold: address concealed weapons, and address the use of "machine guns." The original version of the bill (which did not pass) included "pistols and revolvers, and short-barreled shotguns and rifles" as concealable weapons. Second Amendment advocates were successful in removing pistols and revolvers from the legislation. In the Act that eventually passed, short-barreled shotguns and rifles and machine guns were the weapons to be subject to the new regulation and its accompanying and prohibitive $200 tax — one third the price of a new car.
Fast-forward to today. The ATF wants to regulate pistol braces as part of the 1934 NFA, but that defies all logic. The intent (in part) of the failed legislation and the eventual Act was to deal with the issue of concealed weapons. How can adding a cumbersome pistol brace to an already very concealable pistol make that pistol more concealable?
Congress has no place in regulating guns, never mind an accessory to them, and the ATF has no place in making any law regarding anything. Tens of millions of Americans are now at risk of becoming felons, serving ten years in federal prison, having their right to bear arms stripped from them, and paying a $250,000 fine. We must not comply.
Image via Pexels.