Last year, the City Council of Missoula voted to pass an ordinance that required that anyone wishing to transfer a privately owned firearm must do so through a Federal Firearms dealer. There were a couple of exceptions for family members and at shooting ranges.
Many said at the time said the ordinance was a violation of Montana law, and was illegal. The City Attorney claimed that the law was legal. The AG of the state, Tim Fox, stated a personal opinion, at the time the law passed, that the law was not legal or Constitutional. Now AG Fox has issued an official opinion on the subject, dated 26 January, 2017. From crossroadstoday:
Fox had maintained all along Montana law didn't grant the city that authority -- and he confirmed that position in the new opinion.Montana passed a state pre-emption law thirty years ago, to prevent a patchwork of contradictory firearms laws from being enacted across the state. From the missoulian.com:
Fox noted Missoula does have certain powers as a charter city, saying it does have the authority to regulate the use and carrying of firearms under state law. However, Fox says state law doesn't allow Missoula to have an ordinance "enforcing a local regulation or ordinance requiring background checks on firearm sales or transfers within its borders."
The state previously allowed cities to make their own laws regarding firearms sales, Fox wrote in his opinion, but a 1985 House bill repealed that section of the MCA and replaced it with new language that still is in place.Many people predicted the Attorney General would come to this official conclusion. Now he has done so. It seems unlikely that the City of Missoula would attempt to take this decision to court, but it might.
“The purpose of HB 643 was clear – only the state should decide how firearm purchases, sales and transfers should be regulated, if at all.”
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.