Kansas Gov. Brownback Backs Down From Tenth Amendment Fight
By Shari Dovale
In April 2013, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law the 2nd Amendment Protection Act.
Rep. Brett Hildabrand called it the “strictest Second Amendment protection law in the nation,” promised it would stand up to constitutional challenge and suggested the law would encourage expansion of firearm businesses in Kansas.
It included the words:
It is unlawful for any official, agent or employee of the government of the United States, or employee of a corporation providing services to the government of the United States to enforce or attempt to enforce any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States upon a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately and owned in the state of Kansas and that remains within the borders of Kansas. Violation of this section is a severity level 10 nonperson felony.
A day after the Second Amendment law took effect, then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder advised Brownback by letter that Kansas law criminalizing federal enforcement of gun laws was unconstitutional.
“In purporting to override federal law and criminalize the official acts of federal officers, Senate Bill 102 directly conflicts with federal law and is therefore unconstitutional,” Holder said.
The U.S. attorney general said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the FBI; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas would continue to enforce federal firearms law and regulations. He said the Justice Department would engage in litigation if necessary to prevent Kansas from interfering with activities of federal officials enforcing federal law.
Brownback was unconcerned. But, Holder was determined to crush these upstarts in Kansas, and found just the case to use.
Shane Cox sold homemade firearms and silencers out of his military surplus store, and stamped “Made in Kansas” on them to assure buyers that a Kansas law would prevent federal prosecution of anyone owning firearms made, sold and kept in the state. He also handed out copies of the Second Amendment Protection Act passed in 2013 by the Kansas Legislature and signed by Gov. Sam Brownback.
28-year-old Jeremy Kettler bought a silencer from Cox and posted a video about it on Facebook.
Cox and Kettler were both charged and convicted under the National Firearms Act. The Defense unsuccessfully argued to have the charges dismissed because the defendants believed the Kansas law made their activities legal.
Brownback did not come to their defense. The State of Kansas rolled over and allowed these men to be prosecuted. They did not enforce their own law that should have protected their citizens.
During sentencing, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten said, “I am satisfied you both had a good faith belief that you are protected by that statute.” He knew they had no intentions of breaking the law, and indeed verified that they were following state law. They each received probation, but since they have been convicted of felonies, they are now required to give up their firearms.
This case is certain to reach the Supreme Court, and the 10th Amendment will have it’s day. States Rights vs. Federal Law.
10th Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
This will be a landmark case for the citizens of the United States.
However, Brownbeck has, all of a sudden, stepped up and gotten involved in this case. He could not do anything for these men when they were standing behind HIS law. He threw them to the wolves.
But, now, he does not want this case to go to the Supreme Court, and has written a letter to President Trump asking for a pardon for these men.
“In November 2016, two Kansans — Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler — were convicted of alleged federal firearms violations in the U.S. District Court of Kansas in Wichita,” Brownback wrote. ” The charges against Cox and Kettler were in conflict with our State’s Second Amendment Protection Act, upon which these citizens relied. Their prosecutions were initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice during the administration of President Obama.”
“Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder previously had sought to undermine the Second Amendment rights of Kansans by attacking the Second Amendment Protection Act at the time of its enactment. The unfair prosecutions of Cox and Kettler were no doubt an attempt to further this affront to the State of Kansas and to deter Kansans from the exercise of their constitutional rights. Unfortunately, Cox and Kettler were the unwitting victims in this overreaching federal attempt to make an example of someone.”
This is interesting, because instead of supporting these men from the beginning, and all the way to the Supreme Court, this Governor is trying to keep the case from the justice’s that could reaffirm his original law.
Though I am in favor of President Trump issuing pardons for wrongful convictions, this does not resolve the underlying issues. Would accepting a pardon constitute an admission of guilt? Would a pardon completely wipe this conviction off the books, as if it never happened, thereby starting the ‘States Rights’ issues all over again?
Brownback has caused this mess by not showing any backbone in supporting the law that he signed. He did not enforce the law, and his citizens ended up with no protection whatsoever. How can they trust him to enforce other laws?
Brownback is not alone. Every legislator in Kansas that voted for this bill has culpability by not coming to the defense of their citizens.
Yes, Obama was a bully and Holder was his enforcer. But, the State of Kansas assured their citizens that they would protect them.
Ask Cox and Kettler how much protection they received.
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