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The West Virginia legislature at its finest. WV Delegate Pat McGeehan.

West Virginia's legislative session is less than a week old and things are already really stupid.

And I'm not even talking about making measles great again, outlawing almond milk, trying to steal counties from other states, or the fundamental American right to hunt coyotes with night vision goggles.

What I'm talking about today is a very special piece of legislation called the Firearms Freedom Act.

If you're new to West Virginia politics, it's time to take a swig of moonshine and huff a few sharpies, because we're goin' in!


If you've never prayed for the sweet release of death, you've never lived through a legislative session in West Virginia. The legislative session here runs once a year, for 60 days straight, starting in early January.

The session officially started last Wednesday, and the days since have been a mad dash to the bottom.

It's West Virginia, so naturally, there are a bunch of stupid gun bills. But one of these bills is even dumber than usual. Friends, let me introduce you to House Bill 2143!

HB 2143, sponsored by Republican Delegate Gary Howell, doesn't do much -- just purports to change the meaning of the federal Constitution. Through state legislation. That is, emphatically, very much NOT a thing.

My personal favorite part of HB 2143 is the weird "Legislative declarations of authority" at the beginning, which tries to redefine federal constitutional law -- but only for West Virginia. It says -- extremely repetitively and redundantly over and over repeating itself -- that the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments to the US Constitution "guarantee[] to the people rights not granted in the Constitution and reserves to the people of West Virginia certain rights as they were understood at the time that West Virginia was admitted to statehood in 1863. The guaranty of those rights is a matter of contract between the state and people of West Virginia and the United States as of the time that the compact with the United States was agreed upon and adopted by West Virginia and the United States in 1863[.]"

Umm, I am fairly certain this is trying to say that the federal government only has the power to enforce these constitutional amendments per the Supreme Court's understanding of them in 1863. Unfortunately for Delegate Howell, that is very much not how the Constitution works. (And apparently someone forgot to tell the delegate that, in 1863, the Second Amendment wasn't understood to grant an individual right to bear arms. That was a 2008 ruling by some pretty activist judges.)

Under this ... umm ... idea, each state would operate under a different meaning of the various federal constitutional amendments, depending on the date they were admitted to the union. So it would be like time -- and the US Constitution -- just stopped at the moment a state officially became a state.

If all of this sounds completely and utterly batshit insane, that's because it is. And you might want to add a little guano to whatever it is you're smoking, because we're about to get to the part where this proposed state legislation tries to redefine what "counts" as interstate commerce under federal law.

A personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in West Virginia and that remains within the borders of West Virginia is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.

Oh, okay then.

It is declared by the Legislature that those items have not traveled in interstate commerce.

State legislatures don't get to decide what counts as being involved in interstate commerce.

But don't tell Gary Howell that.

The authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce in basic materials does not include authority to regulate firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition made in West Virginia from those materials. Firearms accessories that are imported into West Virginia from another state and that are subject to federal regulation as being in interstate commerce do not subject a firearm to federal regulation under interstate commerce because they are attached to or used in conjunction with a firearm in West Virginia.

You heard 'em, kids! West Virginia guns are now EXEMPT from the US Constitution!

Of course, that's not how any of this works. I guess no one ever told the drafters of this bill about the Supremacy Clause, which was very much a part of the US Constitution in 1863 and says:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Y'all, this is the kind of stupid we're dealing with, here. The shit we're dealing with isn't just immoral and wrong. It's also very, very dumb.

And the legislature hasn't even been in session a full week yet.

As Wonkette's resident West Virginian, I just have to say ...

Please. Send help.

[ HB 2143 / HB 4139 ]

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Jamie Lynn Crofts
Jamie Lynn Crofts is sick of your bullshit. When she’s not wrangling cats, she’s probably writing about nerdy legal stuff, rocking out at karaoke, or tweeting about god knows what. Jamie would kindly like to remind everyone that it’s perfectly legal to tell Bob Murray to eat shit.
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