Utah Legislators Embrace Firearms Freedom Act And Assert States' Rights

The federal government has no right to regulate guns made, sold and used within Utah, state lawmakers at a committee hearing decided on Nov. 25, according to a new story published inthe Salt Lake Tribune.

The Legislature's Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee advanced a bill that its sponsor, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, calls the "Firearms Freedom Act." If upheld in federal courts -- a big if, considering past rulings on states' rights -- Utahns purchasing Utah-made guns would not face federal requirements such as background checks.

"I love the idea of the firearms," said Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, "and I love to swipe at the federal government on this one."

The bill taps the flip side of the Constitution's commerce clause, which the federal government used to impose civil-rights legislation, among other rules, on companies doing business across state lines. Modeled after a measure that Montana lawmakers passed this year, it asserts that the federal government lacks enforcement powers when no interstate commerce exists.

The bill would maintain a federal prohibition on machine guns, but otherwise would leave regulation of locally produced guns to the state. Perry Dayton, the senator's son and former intern who helped present the bill Wednesday, said there are a few gun makers in Utah, but "nothing on a real large scale."

As much as protecting Second Amendment rights to arms, Sen. Dayton said, her bill calls on the 10th Amendment's to guarantee that.