Power can only be checked by power, and so when contemplating state sovereignty and nullification resolutions only those ones that require officials of a state government to interpose upon federal agents really matter. A state’s governor, state police, sheriffs, and other law enforcement officials must be willing and legally empowered by their legislatures to prevent, and if necessary, jail federal agents who transgress against the law-abiding citizens of their state. Furthermore, any “sovereignty” resolution passed by a state legislature that does not place the state government between a law-abiding citizen and federal agents is actually worse than useless. The state governments must use their police powers to interpose, otherwise they are just leaving their citizens to be devoured by the alphabet soup of merciless federal agencies.
And so Wyoming has cast the first stone, and has passed a nullification act with teeth. In particular a federal agent is guilty of a felony if he attempts to enforce federal gun laws that contradict state laws. The penalty for transgression is up to $2000 in fines and up to two years in jail. It will certainly be interesting to see how all of this plays out.
With hope, this act and others like it represent the beginnings of a renewed federal system and a path toward decentralized governance. On the other hand we may look back and see this as the seeds of mountain west secession, which is certainly a possibility given than Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are a contiguous territory and hold similar views about the federal government. Time will tell I suppose, and of course in the end, it is always possible that the nullification movement amounts to nothing.
The fireworks will come should Wyoming actually enforce this law upon a federal agent, and boy will that be the show. There is no doubt that the leftists of all stripes will howl. Then after the initial shock, they will point to the supremacy clause, and exclaim how the “Civil War” decided these matters once and for all. Wyoming’s legislators will be decried as racists and right-wing lunatics.
The statolators (worshipers of the state) are as predictable as they are mistaken. The supremacy clause only applies to those powers specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution, and what is right or wrong can never be dictated by force of arms. As for their groundless insults, it practically goes without saying that those who worship at the altar of the state and benefit from its lawlessness must by their very nature be upset about nullification and interposition. Let them scream. They are part of the problem.
And yet the statists are not stupid people. They know what’s at stake here, and they will fight interposition tooth and nail. They know that firearms represent a particular case of a much larger principle. If nullification and interposition work with firearm laws, then education, healthcare, drugs, and a whole host of other issues where the federal government exercises unconstitutional authority are up for grabs. The diminution of state authority is a statist’s worst nightmare, so we can expect a nasty fight should Wyoming attempt to enforce this law.
One place the fight will occur is in the federal court system, but the fact that the federal government has been able to act as a judge in cases brought against it by the states is absurd on its face. No entity can legitimately act as a judge when its own lawlessness is on trial. The whole precedent of the federal courts adjudicating cases brought against the federal government by any of the united states ought to be dismissed out of hand. Rather, we need some other peaceful way of reining in Leviathan. State nullification and interposition may simply stand on its own if enough states get on board. And that displays an eternal truth, no government no matter its form, can enforce laws that are universally disobeyed.
Finally, lest anyone forget, it is important to remember that Wyoming, or any of the states for that matter, have far few resources at their disposal than does the federal government. Nor do any of them possess a magical money machine, a.k.a. a printing press. So if push comes to shove it’s pretty clear who the winner will be. On the other hand, the feds are for all intents and purposes bankrupt – financially, morally, and intellectually. So really anything could happen.
Whatever happens though, state nullification and interposition may be the last best hope for restoring some balance to the current system. That said, if the gambit fails to increase liberty and decentralize governance then, (for better or worse), it will be time to seriously consider emigration.