It's been fascinating to watch Republicans in Missouri attempting to pass "nullification" laws intended to negate federal authority on gun control -- because in doing so, they are demonstrating themselves fully in the thrall of the far-right "Patriot"/militia movement of the 1990s, and are indeed enacting some of its fondest fantasies.
The New York Times has the story, though of course not the whole story:
Unless a handful of wavering Democrats change their minds, the Republican-controlled Missouri legislature is expected to enact a statute next month nullifying all federal gun laws in the state and making it a crime for federal agents to enforce them here. A Missourian arrested under federal firearm statutes would even be able to sue the arresting officer.
Lawmakers are considering whether to override a veto of a gun bill by Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri, who considered the bill unconstitutional.
The law amounts to the most far-reaching states’ rights endeavor in the country, the far edge of a growing movement known as “nullification” in which a state defies federal power.
The Missouri Republican Party thinks linking guns to nullification works well, said Matt Wills, the party’s director of communications, thanks in part to the push by President Obama for tougher gun laws. “It’s probably one of the best states’ rights issues that the country’s got going right now,” he said.
So this is an official Republican effort. And sure enough, the story eventually gets around to hinting at where this is all coming from:
Still, other states have passed gun laws that challenge federal power; a recent wave began with a Firearms Freedom Act in Montana that exempts from federal regulations guns manufactured there that have not left the state.
Gary Marbut, a gun rights advocate in Montana who wrote the Firearms Freedom Act, said that such laws were “a vehicle to challenge commerce clause power,” the constitutional provision that has historically granted broad authority to Washington to regulate activities that have an impact on interstate commerce. His measure has served as a model that is spreading to other states. Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down Montana’s law, calling it “pre-empted and invalid.”
A law passed this year in Kansas has also been compared to the Missouri law. But Kris W. Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, disagreed, saying it had been drafted “very carefully to ensure that there would be no situation where a state official would be trying to arrest a federal official.”
Longtime C&L readers may recall just who Gary Marbut is. He first popped up on our radar here in 2009, when he appeared on a Glenn Beck show on Fox promoting these same "nullification" concepts (see the video above). But he has been on the radar of people who monitor far-right extremists for many long years, because he is in fact one of the founders and earliest proponents of the "militia" concept: