Daily Archives: May 3, 2009

Montana Fires a Warning Shot Over States’ Rights

Associated Press | Apr 30, 2009

By Kahrin Deines

HELENA – Montana is trying to trigger a battle over gun control — and perhaps make a larger point about what many folks in this ruggedly independent state regard as a meddlesome federal government.

In a bill passed by the Legislature earlier this month, the state is asserting that guns manufactured in Montana and sold in Montana to people who intend to keep their weapons in Montana are exempt from federal gun registration, background check and dealer-licensing rules because no state lines are crossed.

That notion is all but certain to be tested in court.

The immediate effect of the law could be limited, since Montana is home to just a few specialty gun makers, known for high-end hunting rifles and replicas of Old West weapons, and because their out-of-state sales would automatically trigger federal control.

Still, much bigger prey lies in Montana’s sights: a legal showdown over how far the federal government’s regulatory authority extends.

“It’s a gun bill, but it’s another way of demonstrating the sovereignty of the state of Montana,” said Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who signed the bill.

Carrie DiPirro, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, had no comment on the legislation. But the federal government has generally argued that it has authority under the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution to regulate guns because they can so easily be transported across state lines.

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Texas lawmakers say nyet to a Russian look-alike flag

russia-flag_0

The Russian flag flies over the Kremlin

Star Telegram | May 3, 2009

By DAVE MONTGOMERY

The flag that was rejected

The flag that was rejected

AUSTIN — A proposed flag bearing a strong resemblance to the one that flutters over the Kremlin just didn’t fly in the Texas House of Representatives on Saturday.

The flag — with red, white and blue horizontal stripes and a star in the middle — was being proposed as the official flag for the Texas governor. Take away the star and it looks virtually identical to the flag of post-Soviet Russia.

new_flag_texasInstead, after a bit of mocking repartee in Russian and a few one-liners about secession, House members tentatively settled on a substitute flag offered by Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford: a dark-blue background, with a white star in each corner, a Lone Star seal in the center, surrounded by olive and oak branches.

Members also tacked on: “In God We Trust.”

The lighthearted debate seemed to fit with the informal atmosphere of the House’s first Saturday session of the 2009 Legislature. Though male lawmakers wore the required coat and tie, at least one showed up in jeans and cowboy boots.

King, at the front mike, and Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, at the back of the chamber, opened the discussion with what was obviously an orchestrated exchange in Russian. Paxton, who studied Russian in college, quickly instructed King on what to say.

“Members, vote America, not Russia,” King, reverting to English, said in support of his amendment.

Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, who proposed the red-white-and-blue flag, defended it, saying the design was that of the 1839 Texas pilot flag that graced ships when Texas was a republic. “If anything, the Russians copied us,” he said.

Wisecracks about Gov. Rick Perry’s recent remarks on secession also found their way into the debate. “Does having your own flag entitle you to secede and have your own country?” asked Rep. Valinda Bolton, D-Austin.

King said he scrambled into action Saturday morning after a Capitol staff member pointed out the resemblance between the historic Texas flag and the one that has flown over Russia since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

King’s substitute flag was modeled from flags that Texas governors displayed in the 1960s and 1970s before the practice was dropped.

“You’ve got to cut up a little bit down here,” King said. “It gets too serious.”