A new way of looking at federal firearms legislation

In keeping with this blog’s tradition of trying to be the Unofficial Fan Site of David Codrea’s War on Guns Blog, I’m going to yet again discuss a topic I first discovered there.

I refer to his post about the Chapter 44 Project. The Chapter 44 Project is the work of a group called Original Intent, in which the Constitutional authority used to justify the passage of federal firearms laws is explored in a way I had never seen.

The contention here is startling. To be honest, I’m not sure my intellect is quite up to the task of following the arguments all that well, but it seems that the claim is that since the Constitution does not grant to the federal government the power to regulate firearms, the justification the government has always used comes from the “Commerce Clause,” which allows the feds to pass laws that pertain to interstate (and foreign) commerce. Whether or not that authority has been abused by the federal government is, of course, a matter of long-standing and rancorous debate. But, according to Original Intent’s Chapter 44 Project, that debate may have been fought all this time on badly misunderstood ground.

Rather than try to reproduce the rather complex argument here, I’ll simply provide the link again, but if I understand correctly, the contention is that the federal authority to regulate firearms under the Commerce Clause only extends to federally controlled land (such as Army bases, etc.) within the states–not land that is under a state’s legal authority.

I had always thought that all federal firearms laws were unconstitutional, but were upheld by “friendly” courts. I had not considered the possibility that the laws do have Constitutional authority, but on a vastly more limited basis than has always been thought to have been the case, and that the government has depended on ambiguity and confusion to exercise authority it does not have.

I don’t know how accurate the Chapter 44 Project is, but I certainly would like to see it explored.

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