Much of the 2013 legislation introduced by members of both parties in the Alabama legislature ranges from the silly, to the unnecessary, to the downright delusional. And Republican Mike Jones pulls of a legislative hat trick HB8, as does Senator Gerald Allen with his Firearms Freedom Act (SB43).
Article I, Section 26 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, provides that every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself or herself and the state.
This proposed amendment would provide that every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny.
This proposed amendment would also provide that a citizen cannot be compelled by international treaty or law from taking actions that prohibit, limit, or otherwise interfere with the fundamental right to bear arms.
It's silly because – contrary to what many GOP elected officials believe – the “right to keep and bear arms” is already in the US Constitution and what's in that august document trumps any silliness added to Alabama's state constitution.
A couple of red flags with this bill:
- Strict Scrutiny is a standard of judicial review where the courts weigh a government's ability to “weigh the government's interest against a constitutional right or principle.” Some Alabama sheriffs have expressed concern that this section might require them to issue concealed carry permits to virtually anyone who applies. Under current law, sheriffs have more latitude.
So the unnecessary part of the bill is to restrict the discretion local law enforcement. And we thought the GOP was all about local control!
- “International treaties.” Really, GOP? Is it remotely possible for you guys to introduce any piece of legislation without an delusional dash of anti-UN paranoia? This isn't so much of a red flag as it is just more stupid Republican unicorn hunting.
Now, SB48 is even more troubling. Full text here:
This bill would exempt from federal regulation under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and retained within the borders of Alabama.
The important thing to understand about the so-called “Firearms Freedom Act” is that it is not homegrown Alabama legislation: it's a nationwide effort on the part of the “tenther” movement. If that sounds suspiciously close to the “birther” movement, well… its is. Those groups cross-pollinate pretty regularly.
The “tenthers,” though, are far more dangerous. Read more about them here, but here's a taste of their worldview:
Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) has been an opponent of the Federal Reserve, Agriculture Department, and Justice Department, and claims the Federal government should only focus on crimes such as counterfeiting, treason, and piracy. Broun wasn’t specific, but he intimated that the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Food and Drug Administration should be eliminated. Broun’s argument is that the main function of the federal government is national defense.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), recently said that Federal child labor laws are unconstitutional and claims that states have the right to regulate commerce and that the Federal government is usurping states’ authority.
Multi-national corporations would just LOVE to be freed from the constraints of child-labor laws, minimum wage regulations, food safety requirements, and anti-pollution laws. In the “tenthers,” they've found an eager horde of foot soldiers who seem determined to turn the United States of America into a North American version of Somalia.
Not surprisingly, the Alabama GOP leadership seems to think that's a good thing.