Photo credit: Royal Broil, Creative Commons.
The Montana Supreme Court voted unanimously Oct. 22 to reverse a district judge’s decision to uphold extreme gun-control measures in Missoula, Mont.
The Missoula City Council passed an ordinance in 2016 that criminalized virtually all private firearms transfers in the city by requiring a background check for the sale or transfer of every firearm, including purchases at gun shows. The law provided few exceptions, such as transfers involving immediate family members, antique firearms, members of law enforcement and temporary transfers “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.”
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox issued a legal opinion in 2017 that deemed the ordinance to have infringed upon both the U.S. Constitution and Montana’s state constitution. The City of Missoula challenged Fox’s opinion and moved for summary judgment. Missoula District Court Judge Robert “Dusty” Deschamps overturned Fox’s opinion and upheld the ordinance in 2018.
Fox appealed the ruling and the Montana Supreme Court recently voted 5-0 in his favor, invalidating Missoula’s ordinance.
“This is a huge victory for Montana gun owners and everyone who cherishes freedom in Big Sky Country,” said Jason Ouimet, executive director, NRA-ILA. “The unanimous ruling from Montana’s Supreme Court confirms that politicians cannot usurp a constitutional framework by contemptuously enacting gun control at the local level.”
Montana is one of over 40 states with a firearm preemption law, which prohibits local government from enacting firearm regulations that are more restrictive than state law. Preemption laws protect law-abiding gun owners from having to deal with a myriad of local laws that make exercising Second-Amendment rights inconvenient and functionally impossible.
The decision into protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens is a win for the Second Amendment in Montana. The Montana State Legislature voted to allow constitutional carry throughout the state as recently as 2015 and 2017 only to see Gov. Steve Bullock – a current Democratic presidential candidate polling at less than 1% in most major polls – veto both bills: