The Missoula, Mont., City Council voted Wednesday to require background checks on all transfers of guns between private individuals, in violation of state pre-emption laws that bar such actions by local authorities.
Spurred by the local chapter of Michael Bloomberg’s Moms Demand Action, the council voted 8-4 to restrict gun transfers within city limits. A Missoula police spokesman said police would only enforce the ordinance upon receipt of a complaint initially, but sponsor Bryan von Lossberg predicted enforcement will escalate. “Enforcement will change over time as we learn and adapt,” von Lossberg said, citing updates to the city’s cellphone ordinance—which Police Sergeant Greg Amundsen said has resulted in fewer ways for drivers to escape tickets—as an example. Other city officials were in agreement, describing the ordinance as “just a starting point.”
However, House Speaker Austin Knudsen said Missoula is in direct violation of state law that bars local government from restricting or regulating firearm transfers. Knudsen has asked Attorney General Tim Fox for a legal opinion.