Montana Supreme Court Defends Second Amendment
Constitution of Montana — Article II
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.
Montana Supreme Court again Defends our Second Amendment by reversing a decision against Article II Section 12 of the State Constitution. The case arose from the city of Missoula adopting City Ordinance 3581 adopted on September 26th 2016.
The 2016 ordinance imposed a requirement upon persons purchasing or otherwise receiving a firearm within city limits, including from private unlicensed dealers, to pass a national instant background check. A huge pushback came from across Montana. Fears that the The WCSM Missoula Gun Show, the largest and oldest Gun Show held in Missoula Montana, was in danger of being lost.
“This ordinance is adopted pursuant to the statutory powers explicitly granted to Montana local governments pursuant to subsection 45-8-351(2) MCA for public safety purposes to prevent and suppress the possession of firearms by convicted felons, adjudicated mental incompetents, illegal aliens, and minors.. . as a prevention mechanism to serve as a deterrent to convicted felons, adjudicated mental incompetents[,] illegal aliens[,] and minors unlawfully obtaining possession of firearms.”
After months of political posturing, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox issued a legal opinion on the ordinance which struck down the ordinance. The opinion clearly put down that the self governing powers of Missoula do not extend to the city the authority to exceed constitutional protections.
The 2019 Montana legislature also took action to undue the violations by the City of Missoula. The legislature worked hard to pass LR130 to protect the second amendment rights of the people. The referendum bypassed Montana Governor Steve Bullock, with opponents claiming it will eliminate local government authority.
City of Missoula filed action in the Forth Judicial District to challenge the authority of the Montana Attorney General Opinion. District Court Judge Dusty Deschamps ruled against the people in Cause No. DV-18-429. The judgment declared that City Ordinance 3581 was properly adopted with deference given to the City of Missoula. In October 2018 AG Tim Fox readily prepared and submitted an appeal of the district court decision to the Montana Supreme Court.
Today the Montana Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Montana Attorney Generals appeal. The court agreed with Mr. Fox who argued that the Missoula City Council did not have the authority to infringe on gun ownership rights protected under the Montana and U.S. Constitutions. The case will now go back to the district court in Missoula to be corrected.