The 2016 elections grow closer all the time, however, there is no guarantee we will elect a pro Second Amendment presidential candidate. We can only hope—and stack the deck in our favor at a local level. The NRA and others have done a tremendous job of protecting our rights at a national level. As a result, the antis are changing tactics and taking the fight to the local level. We must do the same; not just with strong Second Amendment candidates, but with legislation that protects our rights regardless of who controls the White House or the local legislature.
While I would like to say that I am ahead of the curve and figured this out on my own, the truth is that the good people of Montana are way ahead of the pack when it comes to protecting their Second Amendment Rights. In 2013, Montana citizens sent a bill to the Gov. Steve Bullock. The bill sought to prevent local police from enforcing federal bans on semiautomatic weapons. While the people supported it, the governor did not and struck it down with a veto.
The veto may have killed the bill, but not the idea. Recently, Republican Rep. Art Wittich of Bozeman introduced House Bill 203 in the House Judiciary Committee. He not only wants to reintroduce the bill, he wants to expand its scope!
“What I’d like to see is that the bill be broadened by removing the references to semi-automatic weapons,” Wittich said. “The intent of this was that anything that impairs Montanans’ rights to keep and bear arms by the federal government… is something that we should not be co-opted into as far as enforcement.”
Wittich’s bill bars local law enforcement from enforcing any federal laws banning semi-automatic weapons, and it goes further. Wittch also spells out provisions that would mandate county attorneys prosecuting those enforcing such laws. The laws would be set directly by the people most affected, not the federal government.
The proposed law is not without its critics and perhaps for good reason. For example, a police officer arresting someone illegally selling a semiautomatic weapon could be arrested and charged with the crime of enforcing federal gun laws. Jim Smith with the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association said the bill, if passed, would put law enforcement in the position of violating laws they have sworn to uphold.
“I think from the sheriff’s perspective this is a misguided effort and an ill-advised attempt to send a message to the federal government,” Smith said, adding that sheriffs can stand up to what he calls federal government overreach with the authority they already possess.
President Obama, among others, proposed new gun laws that include bans on the nebulous and misleading term of “military-style assault weapons.” There is also the concern of the President’s threat to use his phone and pen.
Other opponents said this bill would put the justice system in disarray in an attempt to usurp federal law. Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, supports the bill correctly pointing out that prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings hold that Congress cannot commandeer the resources of state and local governments. He went on to be quoted as saying, “If the Senate were to ratify that then the federal government would be imposing all kinds of new firearms restrictions that are just not consistent with Montana culture.”
Out of Bounds?
Would the proposed Montana law be ground breaking or upset the law enforcement apple cart? Not really. In fact, there are more and more examples of states enacting local laws to reject or ignore federal laws. Recent examples include gun control, marijuana use, health insurance requirements and identification standards for driver’s licenses.
That leaves you—the reader and potential voter—to weigh in with your opinion. We all demand the protection of our Second Amendment rights. However, there is the Supremacy Clause: Article Six, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution that establishes the United States Constitution, federal statutes, and treaties as “the supreme law of the land.” It provides that these are the highest form of law in the U.S. legal system, and mandates that all state judges must follow federal law when a conflict arises between federal law and either a state constitution or state law of any state.
Where do we draw the boundary lines? Montana seems to be doing it right, but let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section.
Growing up in Pennsylvanias game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Daves writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersens Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersens Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!
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