The 18th Amendment, the smoking gun of federal power. or Thank God for principled prohibitionist!Submitted by fiodax on Fri, 12/28/2012 - 18:10
If the 18th Amendment was required in order to grant the Federal government the authority to regulate alcohol because the Constitution did not previously enumerate such authority, how can it be said that the Federal government has the constitutional authority to regulate firearms when the Constitution specifically restricts it from doing so? The 18th Amendment and its repeal stand forever engraved into our nation's history as a reminder that the powers of our federal government are limited to those enumerated in its Constitution. In contrast to the enumeration of powers brought about by the 18th amendment, and its subsequent removal of those powers by its repeal, the 2nd Amendment remains, un-repealed, and rather than granting a specific power to the federal government, it makes the certain activity of regulating the private ownership of firearms off limits to it.
You might make the claim that since the Constitution mentions the regulation of a militia, and grants the Federal Government certain authorities with regards to establishing a navy and armies, that the Constitution does in fact grant the Federal government the authority to regulate firearms. This may be true, but that authority would be specifically limited to its own internal use for those enumerated functions, and the "shall not be infringed" clause of the second amendment would clearly put regulations affecting individual arms ownership out of the scope of federal constitutional power.
You might argue that the Supreme Court has rendered several opinions validating the authority of the Federal government to regulate firearms. Even if you understand the opinions of the court, you should take into consideration that the Supreme Court is itself a part of the Federal government, the justices, while often educated and intelligent, are also afforded their status more by nature of their political connectivity than by their constitutional objectivity. Besides, there are many constitutional scholars, many who are more educated and intelligent than any Supreme Court Justice, whose opinions are just as worthy of our attention. This all beside the fact that with just a basic understanding of natural law and a prima facie reading of the Constitution, a reasonable person can easily discern the proper constitutional role of the Federal government, with no help from any other outside expertise. The opinions of the court are just that, opinions, and as they relate to the scope of their own power are somewhat irrelevant, and assuredly suspect, particularly when those opinions violate the natural rights of individuals.
Sadly, the simple answer to the question of where our government is deriving its authority is that we no longer live under a government that consists of and is restricted to the powers enumerated by the Constitution. The government that we are currently being subjected to derives its powers solely by the force of political will and the use or threat of violence, with no cause or pause to consider principle, enumerated or not. If this is the case, then we should have no moral objection to ignoring the rules put forth by politicians who swear an oath to uphold the Constitution but act openly in defiance of it. Most of the general population, having never sworn an oath to the constitution, are surely under no moral obligation to obey these dictates, and those that have are in fact especially obligated to ignore them. At least with the 18th amendment we could argue that the rule of law was sought out, and due process applied, albeit foolishly. An appeal to principle, even a bad one, at least speaks to some kind of integrity.
From an economic perspective, the 18th amendment was a tragedy of misguided and ignorant good intentions. Its passage brought to fruition the realities and dangers of government intervention in the free market. However from a perspective of constitutionally granted authority, the 18th amendment serves as a smoking gun. That a government that didn’t have the power to regulate alcohol without amending that document where its powers are defined, also does not have the power to create regulations on anything else, particularly those regulations its constitution specifically forbids. That is, unless we resign ourselves to the reality that our current government consists of something other than what its constitution enumerates all together.