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Lee Bright’s Firearms Freedom Act




S.C. Senator Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) is an insufferable boob with a reputation for intellectual dimness.  He’s also an over-the-top “family values” Republican – perhaps the most sanctimonious moralizer in a legislative body loaded with holier-than-thou hypocrites.

Detested by his enemies and dismissed by his ideological allies, Bright is good for precisely one thing in our book: consistently casting rock solid pro-free market, fiscally conservative votes.  He’s very good at that, though.  In fact Bright’s record of protecting taxpayers is second-to-none at the S.C. State House – which is why we generally tolerate his borderline buffoonery on other fronts.

But does Bright’s latest gambit – the so-called “Firearms Freedom Act” – constitute buffoonery?  Or is it really a bold stroke on behalf of our most fundamental liberties?  For those of you unfamiliar with Bright’s bill, it would exempt any gun, bullet or gun part manufactured (and kept) in South Carolina from federal regulation.

“A personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in South Carolina and that remains within the borders of South Carolina is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce,” Bright’s law states.

According to reporter Andrew Doughman of The Spartanburg Herald-Journal, eight states have passed similar legislation – with a case pending in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over the state of Montana’s law.  Doughman also points out Bright filed similar legislation a year ago – and notes that his latest bill was filed prior to this month’s school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

In pushing for “firearm amnesty” in the Palmetto State, Bright says protections afforded to South Carolina citizens under the Second, Ninth and Tenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution preempt the federal government’s ability to regulate firearms under the guise of interstate commerce.  And obviously the fact Bright’s bill applies only to firearms manufactured and kept within South Carolina’s borders eliminates the whole “interstate commerce” angle.

“Congress has not expressly preempted state regulation of intrastate commerce pertaining to the manufacture on an intrastate basis of firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition,” Bright’s bill states.

And what about state law?

“The South Carolina Constitution clearly secures to South Carolina citizens, and prohibits government interference with, the right of individual South Carolina citizens to keep and bear arms,” Bright’s legislation notes.

We support Bright’s bill.  Obviously this state has much more pressing legislative priorities to deal with (tax reform, universal parental choice, real government restructuring and long-overdue spending cuts, to name just a few), but we appreciate the thoughtful, substantive way he has chosen to address this issue.

His bill won’t pass – and no federal court would ever uphold it if it did – but it’s still a sensible proposal, particularly in light of the coming assault on the Second Amendment.

S. 85 (“Firearms Freedom Act”)