get it home page promo

Anti-gun group files motion to toss state 2009 law

2010-05-18T23:56:00Z Anti-gun group files motion to toss state 2009 lawBy JENNIFER McKEE IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
May 18, 2010 11:56 pm  • 

One of the biggest names in gun control is asking a federal judge in Montana to invalidate the state’s pioneering gun law which exempts “Montana made” firearms from national gun laws.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on Tuesday filed a friend of the court document in an ongoing suit over the law, asking the federal judge to invalidate the Montana Firearms Freedom Act, which was passed by the 2009 Legislature and went into effect last October.

Montana’s law holds that any firearm made in Montana is exempt from national gun-control laws, including background checks, federal gun registration and federal licensure of gun dealers. The law only covers Montana-made guns used in Montana.

“It simply defies the Constitution for a state to say it can unilaterally exempt itself from federal law,” said Dennis Henigan, vice-president for law and policy at the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Center. “This was the (same) claim made by the Southern states in the Jim Crow era. That type of radical states rights position has been consistently rejected by the courts.”

The Montana Shooting Sports Association, one of the law’s strongest supporters, filed a lawsuit last October against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asking the judge to stop federal agencies from enforcing their laws in Montana.

The Brady Center joined with the Montana Human Rights Network and a long list of other groups in asking the judge to throw out the law.

In defense of the law, Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock has intervened in the case, writing that Montana’s law is constitutional. Attorneys general in Utah, Alabama, Idaho, South Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and West Virginia have also weighed in defending the Montana Firearm Freedom Act.

The bill was not particularly controversial in the 2009 Legislature. An overwhelming 85 representatives from both parties voted in favor of it when it passed the 100-member Montana House. In the Senate, it passed with a strong 29-21 majority, with only Democrats opposing the measure.

Montana’s law was the first of its kind to pass. Since then, however, similar laws have passed in Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho and Arizona. Other clones of the law have been introduced in more than 20 other state legislatures, including Alaska, where the bill is awaiting signature by the Alaska governor.

The law deals with the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, which holds that Congress may regulate the sale of products that cross state lines. By manufacturing and keeping the firearms within the state, such Montana-made, Montana-owned guns ought to be exempt from the commerce clause, supporters argue.

Marbut said the law is not only sound legally, but is also gaining support among many other states, which shows a kind of “emerging consensus” nationwide.

Marbut also said the fact that the Brady Center took notice of the Montana law is a good thing and shows that the issue should be decided by a judge, not thrown out, as the Brady Center argues.

“It seems to have sufficient merit to have caught their interest,” he said.

Reporter Jennifer McKee may be reached at 446-4069 or at

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(2) Comments

  1. Outlaw
    Report Abuse
    Outlaw - May 19, 2010 9:29 am
    Go Brady, lose another one so other States can follow the leader.
  2. steeline
    Report Abuse
    steeline - May 19, 2010 8:41 am
    To the Brady Bunch. Come take my guns away from me.

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick


Follow the Independent Record

Great Helena Businesses

Featured Offers & Deals