As you might have heard, several states have passed—or are in the process of passing—laws that (re)assert states rights over guns that are manufactured, sold and used within their respective states. Despite concerns about the cost of such legislation, Utah is one of the latest to join the “keep your hands off of my gun rack Jack” pack. Conventional wisdom holds that these laws are designed simply to test the Supreme Court’s mettle (and win votes). Should they make it upstream to the fount of federal jurisprudence, they’ll “help” the Court decide a fundamental question: does the federal government have the right to pass and enforce laws that fly in the face of the 10th Amendment? If the States’ cases hold up, we could be looking at the undoing of roughly 80 years worth of progressive laws; laws that have upset the delicate balance between the Feds and the “Several States.”
All that notwithstanding, the states that are passing/have passed these laws made me stop and think for a different reason. Montana was the first state to pass such a law. Not to take away anything from Big Sky country, but Montana isn’t exactly (forgive me) number one with a bullet on my list of states where gun manufacturers ply their trade. Matter of fact, I was under the impression that most gun manufacturers were located in Illinois. Turns out, I was wrong.
Connecticut far and away wins the “most gun manufacturers in a state” award, with eight. Texas (yea!), Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois come in second with four. Colorado and Virginia have three, Maryland, Montana and Ohio each have two, with twelve other states with one each.
Montana, Texas and Utah are obviously protecting their existing manufacturers, but I would think that all of these states would absolutely love to welcome manufacturers currently residing in gun-unfriendly states such as Illinois, California and New York. You’d think in times such as these, no Governor in his or her right mind would do anything to drive manufacturers (not to mention manufacturing jobs) out of their respective states. But you’d be wrong.
As for me, I’d love to see a bunch more manufacturers relocate to Texas. We have a gun-friendly culture, no state income tax, wide open spaces, easy access to transportation and local governments that would welcome them with open arms (i.e. tax breaks).
I've seen some discussion of these anti-fed laws and my opinion is that they will not withstand a commerce clause challenge. See Wickard v. Filburn and the Heart of Atlanta Motel case. Both of those cases involved activities which, by themselves, had no direct connection with interstate commerce and in both cases the Supreme Court said that because the actions of the parties in those cases had a substantial effect on interstate commerce, they fell under Congress' power to regulate.
And for that matter, let's assume for a moment that the guns are entirely manfuactured in the states in which these laws are passed. How do they get to market? By moving on highways, railroads and air corridors that are all "instrumentalities" of interstate commerce.
No, I think these laws are pure posturing. Or else a gauntlet thrown down as a challenge to Federal authority (a challenge they would almost certainly lose were it tested in court.)
Well, that might be true, as far as it goes. But the REAL question (and the one that the Supremes will actually be considering) is the actual meaning of the 10th Amendment. Historically speaking, the modern interpretation of the 10th came about in the throes of the Great Depression. This expansive reading of the amendment enabled the Federal government to not only usurp powers reserved for the "several States," but to expand their powers and extend their ability to regulate just about anything they like.
You see, the problem is that, once you interpret the "commerce clause" as "regulating" (as in "controlling") commerce instead of the original intent (to "make commerce regular" between the states), it takes on a whole new meaning. This change of interpretation lies at the heart of the Progressive movement starting with T.R. and Wilson back in the 20's. This expansionist view of the Constitution changed the balance of power between the Feds and the States. (Well, that and changing the way we elect U.S. Senators.)
These test cases have little to do with firearms and everything to do with States Rights. So while you're right about the laws going down in flames if they are held to the current (re)interpretation of the 10th, should the Court restore the original intent of the founders to the 10th Amendment, all bets are off.