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State prepares to challenge U.S. gun laws

Posted By Bob Unruh On 08/25/2009 @ 10:21 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled


Montana statehouse

Supporters of a first-of-a-kind law in Montana that declared weapons or ammunition made and kept in the state were exempt from federal rules are preparing for a court challenge to the federal government’s insistence it will regulate those items.

The Montana Shooting Sports Association and the Second Amendment Foundation have formed a strategic alliance with plans to litigate over the Montana Firearms Freedom Act.

The bill was passed by the 2009 Montana Legislature and signed into law by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

WND reported this spring when Montana drew a line in the sand and challenged the federal government to follow the U.S. Constitution with the law, which exempts from federal regulations any gun, gun accessory or ammunition made in the state and intended for use there.

The law provides guns and ammo made, sold and used in Montana would not require any federal forms; silencers made and sold in Montana would be fully legal and not registered; and there would be no firearm registration, serial numbers, criminal records check, waiting periods or paperwork required.

The idea is spreading quickly. Tennessee already has a similar law, and similar plans have been introduced in Alaska, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Minnesota and Michigan. Lawmakers in nearly 20 other states have such plans in the works.

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With President Obama placing anti-gun activists in influential positions, including an attorney general who supported a complete handgun ban in the District of Columbia before it was tossed by the U.S. Supreme Court, Montana’s move is being called nothing less that revolutionary.

Montana’s plan is called “An Act exempting from federal regulation under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution of the United States a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and retained in Montana.”

The law cites the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees to the
states and their people all powers not granted to the federal government
elsewhere in the Constitution and reserves to the state and people of
Montana certain powers as they were understood at the time it was
admitted to statehood in 1889.

“The guaranty of those powers is a matter of
contract between the state and people of Montana and the United States as of
the time that the compact with the United States was agreed upon and adopted
by Montana and the United States in 1889,” the legislation states.

Now the sports association and the SAF are working on a legal challenge to federal power under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

“MSSA and SAF expect to mount this legal challenge by filing a suit for a declaratory judgment to test the principles of the MFFA in federal court on October 1st, the day the Montana law becomes effective,” the organizations said in today’s announcement.

The groups cited the massive wave of interest developing.

“This … interest across the nation is what the federal judiciary calls ‘emerging consensus’ and will play an important role in validating the principles of the MFFA,” the groups said.

“We’re excited to get the MFFA
into court to articulate and argue the principles of freedom and
states’ rights. It’s especially encouraging that people in so many
other states are getting tickets to ride this particular freedom
train. It will be an interesting journey, and we hope successful one,” said MSSA president Gary Marbut.

SAF founder Alan Gottlieb said, “This is an issue that needs public
attention because it challenges federal intrusion into an area where
the federal government clearly, and literally, has no business.”

Although the Montana law addresses firearms, ammunition and firearm
accessories specifically, it is primarily about states’ rights and
the commerce clause power of Congress. Firearms are the object;
states’ rights and freedom are the subject, the groups said.

As WND reported, when Tennessee adopted its law, federal gun regulators wrote to gun dealers with a threat that they had to ignore the state requirement.

The letter was distributed to holders of Federal Firearms Licenses.

In it, Carson W. Carroll, the assistant director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told dealers the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act, adopted this year, “purports to exempt personal firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition manufactured in the state, and which remain in the state, from most federal firearms laws and regulations.”

The exemption is not right, the federal agency letter contends.

“As you may know, federal law requires a license to engage in the business of manufacturing firearms or ammunition, or to deal in firearms, even if the firearms or ammunition remain with the same state,” the letter said. “All firearms manufactured by a licensee must be properly marked. Additionally, each licensee must record the type, model, caliber or gauge, and serial number of each firearm manufactured or otherwise acquired, and the date such manufacture or other acquisition was made.

“These, as well as other federal requirements and prohibitions, apply whether or not the firearms or ammunition have crossed state lines,” the letter said.


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