Nullification Does Not Have to Mean Confrontation

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TaoDoThere is a lot of chest thumping going on across America and demanding that this federal “law” or regulation be stopped and that we should do it by force if necessary.

Is that the right course of action or is there another way, a less confrontational answer to the constant barrage of new and more expansive usurpations of our rights by a federal government seemingly bent on violating every part of the United Sates Constitution.

I thoroughly understand the frustration and anger with the actions by our and I use the term euphemistically “representatives” in the federal government who seem to find new and more expansive ways to take away our freedoms.

Are we out of options; is there an alternative?

Is there as Thomas Jefferson said a “moderate middle ground”, an effective path that rests between violent and bloody revolution on one hand and unlimited submission on the other?

Jefferson referred to it as “nullification” but it could just as easily been called civil disobedience or non-compliance. As Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center wrote, “we can recognize that 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. It 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 needed, and is almost never effective. Consider the state-level resistance to the 2005 Real ID act. Over the past five (now seven) years, we’ve learned that a federal law can be effectively held at bay or even pushed back through non-compliance alone.”

That is the question before many in state and local government now, choosing between less confrontational non-compliance and drawing a line in the sand that says “you shall not pass” to the federal government.

As big, as it is, the federal government cannot be everywhere at once enforcing “laws” and regulations; it must rely on submission, compliance or “bribery” in to form of federal grants to accomplish its goals. Without local and state government co-operation, it is stymied and thwarted in its efforts.

Take for instance the PPACA (Obamacare) bill at over two thousand pages and with now over thirteen thousands of pages of new regulations that they will try to impose, it will be impossible without our compliance. When we as a people and through our state and local governments say NO, just like Rosa Parks, no petitioning, no lawsuits, no threats of confrontation just NO, they are blocked.

So, what is the latest in the “long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object” our submission. It seems the latest crisis that they don’t want to go to waste is gun control a highly emotional issue, being pushed by some in Congress and the President. Even though the Second Amendment is easy enough for anyone to read and understand the federal government thinks that it can “infringe” on our rights with impunity; and why shouldn’t they, we have let them get away with it too many times to count.

But the constant drip drip of unconstitutional actions has turned into a torrent and more and more state and local government are standing up and saying no more. North Dakota and Virginia are the latest to join the ranks of states  that have bills before them to block the implementation of any new federal gun control violations of the Second Amendment, and both share the same tactic — non-compliance.

North Dakota’s HB 1183 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.

It goes on the list the numerous ways that it will refuse to help the federal government in the enforcement of new gun laws, it also threatens state and local officials with misdemeanor charges for violating this bill but does not propose punitive actions against federal agents.

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.”

Both of these bills are the “moderate middle ground” that Jefferson spoke of and are in the tradition of Gandhi and Parks — civil disobedience and non-compliance. In neither case are there threats of confrontational actions against any member or agent of the federal government, they are just stating the obvious, that the federal government has exceeded its delegated powers under the Constitution and therefor their actions are “null and void and of no force” and will not be complied with within the borders of state.

The federal government and governments in general rely on our compliance and submission to laws, and when they govern according to the “rule of law” and our Constitutions then those laws should be obeyed. But when governments step out from the cover of the Constitution and rule like tyrants, it is our right, it is our duty to resist, and one of those steps to nullify unconstitutional “laws” could and maybe should be non-compliance.

Let’s not be so ready to rush into possible physical confrontation; but if conflict and threats of violence are to come, let them come from those that would violate our rights and not from those that want to protect our natural rights, let us stand on the moral high ground.

But stand we must.


William Kennedy [send him email] is the State Director for the North Carolina Tenth Amendment Center. A strong supporter of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights with special emphasis on State Sovereignty protected by the Tenth Amendment.

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