Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Supporters of Montana’s Firearms Freedom Act are turning up the heat on the federal government in their fight to push Congress back into the box set up by the “enumerated powers” the U.S. Constitution allocates to Washington.
The MFFA “is designed to test the power of Congress to regulate everything without limits under the narrow power given to Congress in the Constitution to ‘regulate commerce … among the states,’” according to a report today from the plaintiffs.
The dispute isn’t complicated: the state law “declares that any firearms, ammunition and firearm accessories made and retained in Montana are not subject to any federal authority under the Commerce Clause,” because those items are not in “interstate commerce.”
It’s been so popular that besides the original law in Montana, seven other states also have adopted their own versions of the same plan over the course of one legislation session for the states.
“Congress must find some authority among the Constitution’s ‘enumerated powers’ for every action it takes,” the plaintiffs explain.
The case was brought on behalf of the state law the day the Montana Firearms Freedom Act became effective in Montana on Oct. 1, 2009. Besides the seven other states where the concept has been made into state law, similar bills have been proposed in another 20 states.
“We’ve known all along that the district court will not provide what we seek, the reversal of a half-century of bad Commerce Clause precedent,” said Marbut. “We need to get to the U.S. Supreme Court for that.
“This notice of appeal puts us at the 50-yard line in our quest to get to the Supreme Court – it is a big step in the direction we want to go.”
Briefs in support of the state law have been filed by the state of Utah and other states, the Goldwater Institute, the Paragon Foundation of New Mexico, several groups of state lawmakers, the Weapons Collectors Society of Montana, the state of Montana itself, and others.
“It is totally obvious from the positions of federal participants, both lawyers and judges for the U.S.,” Marbut said, “that the federal establishment definitely, almost desperately, wishes to prevent this issue from having a trial on merit.”
He said the 9th Circuit could order a trial, among its other options. But whatever results come about there is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court, Marbut said.
How Montana’s gun-law plans spread during the last session for state legislatures
The ultimate results of the case could undercut the authority of the federal government on issues not only including guns, but marijuana, REAL ID, health care, the national guard, taxes and other issues.
Those include firearms regulations, medical marijuana laws, REAL ID, health care, the use of the National Guard, taxes, the authority of sheriffs and others. Other states that have jumped on the Montana case bandwagon include Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Idaho and Arizona.
Marbut noted that the federal government’s “vehemence” has indicated it perceives the case as being trouble.
The magistrate in the case, in fact, stooped to name-calling, describing the plaintiffs as “myopic.”
Montana’s 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.
Alaska was the eighth state to declare that firearms made, sold and owned in the state are beyond the reach of the federal bureaucrats along the Potomac. When South Dakota’s law was signed by Gov. Mike Rounds, a commentator said it addresses the “rights of states which have been carelessly trampled by the federal government for decades.”
“I think they’re going to let it ride, hoping some judge throws out the case,” he told WND earlier. “When they really start paying attention is when people actually start following the [state] firearms laws.”
WND reported when Wyoming joined the states with self-declared exemptions from federal gun regulation. Officials there took the unusual step of including penalties for any agent of the U.S. who “enforces or attempts to enforce” federal gun rules on a “personal firearm.”
The costs could be up to two years in prison and $2,000 in fines for an offender.