Montana is trying to trigger a battle over gun control -- and perhaps make a larger point about what many folks in this ruggedly independent state regard as a meddlesome federal government.
In a bill passed by the Legislature earlier this month, the state is asserting that guns manufactured in Montana and sold in Montana to people who intend to keep their weapons in Montana are exempt from federal gun registration, background check and dealer-licensing rules because no state lines are crossed.
This would mean that many prohibited people could buy guns. It would also mean that many people from other parts of the country could buy guns there. For them, driving across state lines would constitute a crime, but perhaps an easier one to get away with than buying illegally in their home state.
The limitation to only guns manufactured in Montana is important, since Montana is home to just a few specialty gun makers, known for high-end hunting rifles and replicas of Old West weapons, and because their out-of-state sales would automatically trigger federal control. But doesn't this sound just like what the pro-gun people say about the Assault Weapons Ban, that it's just the start? If this legislation passes, the precedent will have been established and other laws will follow. In fact, similar measures have also been introduced in Texas and Alaska.
Supporters of the measure say the main purpose is not extending gun freedoms, but curbing what they regard as an oppressive interpretation of the interstate commerce clause and federal overreach into such things as livestock management and education.''Firearms are inextricably linked to the history and culture of Montana, and I'd like to support that,'' said Montana state Rep. Joel Boniek, the bill's sponsor. ''But I want to point out that the issue here is not about firearms. It's about state rights.''
What's your opinion? Is this about gun rights or state rights? Do you think this is a follow up to the Heller decision last year? Is there a direct connection or is this a general trend?
Is there anything wrong with allowing states to have autonomy in these matters, New Jersey strict and Montana lenient as far as guns go?
Please leave a comment.