U.S. law trumps state law in gun rights

Sept. 24, 2009 at 7:34 PM
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NASHVILLE, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A Tennessee law exempting firearms made and sold in the state from federal gun laws and registration is null and void, a federal law enforcement agency said.

The new law, which its sponsors called the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act, "conflicts with federal firearms laws and regulations," U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Assistant Director Carson Carroll, head of the agency's enforcement programs and services, said in an "Open Letter to all Tennessee Firearms Licensees."

"Federal law supersedes the act and all provisions of the (federal) Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act and their corresponding regulations continue to apply," Carroll said.

The Tennessee Legislature overwhelmingly approved the Firearms Freedom Act this year, despite warnings from some lawmakers that it could subject Tennesseans to federal prosecution and imprisonment, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal reported.

An unsigned commentary on the Tennessee Firearms Association's Web site said, "The ATF -- as expected -- has issued a letter in which it disregards the 10th Amendment restrictions on federal power (as seems to be the trend since the late 1930s)."

But ATF Nashville Special Agent-in-Charge James Cavanaugh told The Commercial Appeal the agency was complying with U.S. Supreme Court rulings, which have upheld federal gun laws.

"The ATF hasn't ruled this; the Supreme Court has. And we're a law enforcement agency," he said.

Montana has a similar law set to go into effect Oct. 1.

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