Illegal Federal Rules

Friends,

I have to ask a fairly elementary question. Do federal departments have the authority to make up laws and call them “emergency authority?” That seems to be what is happening with a number of federal departments. The first I want to address is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). Last month the BATFE decided that they needed this emergency authority to stem the flow of arms into Mexico.

BATFE has proposed and the OWH is likely to impose a regulation that will force Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealers to report when they sell two or more semiautomatic rifles larger than .22 caliber with detachable magazines within a week. This emergency authorization is only supposed to last for six months. I may not be the brightest penny in the pack but I can’t remember the last time the federal government instituted a “temporary” regulation that ever expired.

There are two problems with this logic. First is that there is serious doubt about the legitimacy of the premise. It is well known that the violence in Mexico is extreme. Over 30,000 people were murdered down there last year and this year could be worse. It is obvious that there are a lot of guns in Mexico but a greater than fair number of them are weapons that cannot be purchased in an American gun store, such things as rocket propelled grenades, fully automatic weapons, hand-thrown grenades, etc. Mexican president Calderon is beating the drum that all of his problems with guns are coming from the United States. I absolutely reject that concept. A lot of these weapons are being traced back to Asia.

The second problem is that this new “emergency authority” only pertains to gun dealers in the four southern Border States. This affects more than 8,500 dealers. This sounds like a penalization of dealers that have done nothing wrong; what some would call the shotgun approach. The BATFE can’t prove anything so they will go after all dealers in the border states.

This new emergency authority tells me that the BATFE can just cherry pick rules as it suits their whim. Given the folks that inhabit the halls of this administration we can expect more of these emergency authorities. The OWH has nominated an avowed anti-gun advocate, Andrew Tarver, as the next director of BATFE. His appointment is strongly opposed by the NRA.

The penalties to FFL dealers for not adhering to BATFE rules legitimate or not, can be severe. Probably the least penalty is loss of license and they can go up from there. The power and authority of federal regulatory departments is absolute with little recourse for those who are in disagreement. The main problem with fighting an adverse ruling by one of these agencies is that the agency has deep pockets and can afford to litigate the small business owner, and even some large businesses into bankruptcy.

Another agency that is renowned for developing regulations without legal standing is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We, the United States, have not signed on to the Kyoto Accords and the global warming conference in Copenhagen in December, 2009, was a disaster. The OWH and his minions in the EPA are bound and determined to squash the productive sector of the United States by, in part, forcing massive restrictions in CO2 production. Of course they ignore the fact that CO2 is one of the prime elements in the growth of plant life on this planet.

Additionally, the EPA is levying requirements on local utilities. One Pennsylvania sanitation district has sent noticesto all of its customers saying that they will be inspecting all homes to ensure they are not spilling clean water into the sanitary sewage system. (Does that sound like an oxymoron to you?) The Coplay Whitehall Sewer Authority (CWSA) is telling their customers that if compliance is not complete there will be severe penalties and fines. This clearly amounts to illegal search as no warrant is required; at least the CWSA doesn’t think one is necessary.

If the EPA can get away with this kind of illegal search, what agency will try it next? Will the BATFE decide it can search our homes to see if we have weapons it doesn’t like? Will the BATFE try to implement the “assault weapons ban” if the Congress does not reinstitute it? These are just two examples of onerous regulations that are illegally put into place by federal departments. The amount of time and resources expended by US businesses to comply with these regulations both drain assets of business and force illegal actions on all Americans.

As usual, I welcome your comments and discussion.

Dan