Eliminating Local Government’s Ability to Regulate 2A?
Back in 2016, the city of Missoula stretched the wording and authority of Montana law. The local government enacted an ordinance that required all gun transfers in city limits to undergo a background check of both parties involved in the exchange.
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox issued a legal opinion that struck the ordinance down. In the opinion, Mr. Fox stated that Ordinance 3581 was not enforceable. As expected, elected officials of Missoula filed suit in district court against the attorney general opinion. The judge overturned the opinion leading the attorney general to appeal the case to the Montana Supreme Court.
A new lawsuit was filed against the Montana Attorney General this last Friday. The suit revolves around LR130 passed by the Montana Legislature. LR 130 is a result of the legislature passing HB357 that bypasses the Governor of Montana and brings the vote directly to the people.
If passed by the voters, LR130 will place limits on local government prohibiting them from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.
“An act revising firearms laws to secure the right to keep and bear arms and to prevent a patchwork of restrictions by local governments across the state and providing that local governments may not regulate the carrying of concealed weapons; providing that the proposed act be submitted to the qualified electors of Montana; amending sections 7-1-111 and 45-8-351, MCA; and providing an effective date”
Multiple groups joined together to petition the Montana Supreme Court to hear their complaint. It is claimed that the ballot statement submitted by the Attorney General distorts what LR 130 will actually do.
Connecting the dots, citizens of Montana no longer need to wonder what happened with Montana Attorney Jonathan Motl. Mr. Motl served as Commissioner of Political Practice, where he led multiple cases against conservative candidates. Mr. Motl is now representing the groups in the new legal challenge against the citizens of Montana.
The center of the lawsuit is Montana Constitution Article II Section 12. The constitutional protection of the right to keep and bear arms is purported to be the strongest in the nation.
“Section 12. Right to bear arms. The right of any person to keep or bear arms in defense of his own home, person, and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but nothing herein contained shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.”
Federal law requires background checks on guns bought from licensed dealers but not those purchased in private sales or at gun shows.
The referendum opponents are claiming that LR130 will eliminate local government’s ability to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons.
They also claim that LR130 prevents a city or town to regulate possession of firearms by convicted felons, mentally incompetent people, minors and people in the country illegally.
The push from the anti-gun crowd hopes to have the full authority to eliminate the carrying of weapons in public including parks and schools. Many citizens across Montana claim that this is a direct violation of the rights of the people.
Adding language to the law or to the constitution is known as judicial activism exceeding the constitutional authority of local government officials. Citizens across the state of Montana continue to call foul.
The City of Missoula, along with the Montana League of Cities and Towns are leading the challenge. One of the local labor unions and the Montana School Board Association joined the lawsuit. Montana Human Rights group along with an anti-gun group also joined.
The citizens will go to the polls in 2020 to decide on this issue unless further judicial interference in the constitutional rights of the people is affirmed by the Montana Supreme Court.
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