Montana News

Nov 25, 2013 6:08 PM by MTN News

Montana gun law may go to U.S. Supreme Court

A Montana man is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court that threw out a Montana gun law.

The Montana Firearms Freedom Act would keep certain Montana-made guns free of federal regulation if they stay in Montana.

But Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association says the lawsuit is about more than guns.

"If you care about individual liberty, you should care about this case," he said, "The purpose of this case is to roll back federal power on several fronts."

Marbut said that in 1942, the U.S Supreme Court improperly changed the meaning of three critical words in the U.S Constitution: "regulate," "commerce" and "among."

That means, according to Marbut, that instead of allowing Congress to regulate commerce among the states, the court now allows the government "to prohibit any economic activity within the states."

"We think that was a mistake and we're asking the Supreme Court to correct that mistake," he said.

Marbut also said the Ninth Amendment (guaranteeing that elements of the Constitution cannot be used to deny rights held by the people) and the Tenth Amendment (addressing state sovereignty) also trump the court's current interpretation of the commerce clause.

"Our lawsuit is designed to challenge the federal Commerce Clause power - that is, the power given to Congress in the Constitution to regulate commerce among the states, which has been construed to allow the federal government to prohibit any economic activity within states," he said. "And we think that that's a transgression."

The appeal to the Supreme Court follows a decision by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which overruled a federal district court and said Marbut had standing to bring the case. That appellate decision did not overturn the lower court's decision that struck down the Montana law.

The Supreme Court hears only a small percentage of the requests for appeals brought before it. Marbut said the court might decide early next year whether to hear the case.

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