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Rep. Roscoe Streyle and Rep. Bette Grande, Published January 29 2013

Letter: We’ll take Hamilton over Forum editorial, any day

The Forum believes that the protection of our inalienable rights is a “stunt.” (Editorial, Jan. 27.) They prefer feel-good “solutions” coming out of Washington, D.C. Solutions that will not accomplish the stated objectives but which will take yet more of your individual freedom and liberty.

As legislators, we swear an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of North Dakota. To The Forum that may be a quaint relic from a less enlightened era, but it is an oath that we take very seriously.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects each individual’s natural right of self-protection and clearly states that this right shall not be infringed. The North Dakota Constitution opens with Article I, Section 1 and states, in the pertinent part, that all individuals have certain inalienable rights, which include the right to “keep and bear arms for the defense of their person, family, property, and the state, and for lawful hunting, recreational, and other lawful purposes, which shall not be infringed.” (Emphasis added.)

Section 2 of Article I of the state Constitution states that government is instituted to protect our individual, natural, inalienable rights. And it is with that in mind that we take our oath.

House Bill 1183 is intended to defend the right of each individual to protect themselves and their families. It is not a “stunt.”

The editorial claims that by attempting to uphold our constitution we are tilting at windmills. For this pronouncement from on high they cite the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Supremacy Clause is as follows:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

We are just simple legislators, but the phrase “made in pursuance thereof” jumps off the page. We believe that any law passed by Congress that infringes upon the Second Amendment would not be a law passed in pursuance of the Constitution. As a result it would not be supreme.

Further, our position with regard to the Supremacy Clause is supported by Alexander Hamilton, who wrote in Federalist No. 33, Jan. 2, 1788:

“But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the large society which are not pursuant to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such.

“Hence we perceive that the clause which declares the supremacy of the laws of the Union, like the one we have just before considered, only declares a truth, which flows immediately and necessarily from the institution of a federal government. It will not, I presume, have escaped observation, that it expressly confines this supremacy to laws made pursuant to the Constitution; which I mention merely as an instance of caution in the convention; since that limitation would have been to be understood, though it had not been expressed.”

However powerful the federal government has become, we believe in federalism. We also believe that it is well past time that the states reassert their authority.

Despite the opinion of the “constitutional scholars” and the bright minds at The Forum, we will side with Hamilton and uphold our oath to the people of North Dakota. That is the “new reality” that must be grasped.


Grande, R-Fargo, has served District 41 since 1997. Streyle, R-Minot, has served District 3 since 2011.