Commerce, Jurisdiction and Firearms Freedom Acts

By Jeff Matthews


State efforts to reclaim their jurisdiction are great. But in some respects, the states are still showing signs of apprehension of, and/or undue deference to, the federal government.


Various states have passed legislation, collectively referred to as “Firearms Freedom Acts.” Though they may vary in the details, a common thread in these acts seems to be that a state considers a firearm to be within its jurisdiction if it is manufactured within the state.


The obvious reason for this common thread is that if a gun entered from another state, the argument that it falls within federal jurisdiction under the Interstate Commerce Clause can be invoked. However, such an argument would be incorrect.


Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce. Just because a gun crosses state lines does not mean it did so as a part of commerce. Many people move from state to state and take their belongings, including guns, with them. This is not commerce.


Secondly, there is a temporal issue raised by assuming any gun that has come from another state is within the ambit of federal regulatory jurisdiction. As stated, the federal government is empowered to regulate interstate commerce. But what if a gun entered a state as part of interstate trade in say, 1980, and here it is 2010? The gun is no longer the subject of any act of interstate commerce and has not been for 30 years. It is specious, at best, for anyone to believe that any product that ever was the subject of interstate commerce forever remains the subject of federal regulatory control.

The Sovereign Individual

By Helio Beltrão


This Libertas Award acceptance speech was delivered at the XXIII Forum da Liberdade, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on April 12, 2010.


President [Leonardo] Fração, it is a pleasure to be here, at this XXIII Forum da Liberdade, whose theme is based on Ludwig von Mises’s Economic Policy book [known in Brazil as The Six Lessons].  Mises was one of the greatest intellectuals of the twentieth century, a resolute and uncompromising champion of freedom.   Fifty years ago, Mises came to South America and delivered those six historic lectures, which are heralded and quoted just outside, at the Forum’s exhibit.  Today, there is a great international revival of Misesian ideas – including in Brazil – which show the benefits that consumers and workers derive when they are free to venture, to chart their course, and to fulfill their desires.


This week, in Porto Alegre, there is a great concentration of intellectual heirs of Ludwig von Mises. We, from Instituto Mises Brasil, have just concluded our first Conference, which was a great success, and it could not have been otherwise! The energy emanating from you is contagious. We have here today many scholars and experts of the Austrian School of Economics.  Tom Woods, one of the speakers at our Conference and the bestseller author of Meltdown, will address you tomorrow. The legendary founder and Chairman of the Mises Institute – Lew Rockwell – is also among us tonight!  Without Lew, there would be no Mises Institute, no revival of the Austrian School, no Instituto Mises Brasil.  Thank you, Lew.  And above all, thanks to you, President Fração, to IEE [The Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies], for your support to our Conference and especially for your achievements in the fight for liberty. Results come first in this contest; the results of the work of IEE and of the Forum da Liberdade are both evident and quantifiable. Congratulations, IEE!

Central Banking as an Engine of Corruption 
By Thomas J. DiLorenzo


Much has been written about the famous debate between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton over the constitutionality of America's first central bank, the Bank of the United States (BUS). This was where Jefferson, as secretary of state, enunciated his "strict constructionist" view of the Constitution, making his case to President George Washington that since a central bank was not one of the powers specifically delegated by the states to the central government, and since the idea was explicitly rejected by the constitutional convention, a central bank is unconstitutional.


Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton notoriously responded by inventing the notion of "implied" as opposed to enumerated powers of the Constitution.


George Washington signed legislation creating the BUS not because of the strength of Hamilton's argument but because of a shady political deal. The nation's capital was being relocated from New York to Virginia, and Washington wanted the border of the new District of Columbia to abut his property at Mount Vernon. In return for a redrawing of the district's border, Washington signed the Federalist's legislation creating the BUS.

You Have No Right to Violate My Rights

By Adam Murdock, MD


All the problems related to medical care can be traced to a revised and perverse new definition of human rights. No slogan or idea has been used with greater detriment and influence than implying that there is a right to 'free' healthcare. The problem with this slogan is that it takes advantage of the general public's naïve understanding and sympathy for human rights and combines it with an emotional subject such as healthcare.


Using this slogan as a backdrop, political opportunists seeking to impose their version of universal healthcare, trot out tragic examples of individuals, who 'deprived' of their right to healthcare, will be left to suffer and die. They use these rare examples to argue that if only government provided care for everyone then these people would be provided the care they need.


Over the last century, social engineers have also trotted out images of the homeless in the streets to justify total wealth transfer through taxation and the creation of government social programs. Likewise, the Marxist revolution in the Soviet Union and elsewhere appealed to the 'oppressed' with promises of bread and prosperity for the masses. However, in practice the Marxist ideal quickly devolved into endless lines ups for, not bread, but crumbs and not prosperity, but poverty. The promise and practice of universalism in all its forms, including healthcare, proved to be untenable and a gigantic failure.