Gun advocates appeal 'Firearm Freedoms Act' ruling

HELENA, Mont. — Gun advocates asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to overturn a lower court’s ruling against state laws designed to buck federal gun rules.

Earlier this year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge’s decision against the 2009 Montana Firearms Freedom Act. The law attempts to declare that federal firearms regulations don’t apply to guns kept in the state where they were manufactured.

Other pro-gun states have passed similar measures.

The Justice Department has argued successfully that the courts already have decided Congress can use its power to regulate interstate commerce. Some gun-control advocates sided with the federal argument, saying “firearm freedom acts” would allow felons to obtain guns without background checks and make it harder to trace guns used in crimes.

Gun advocates have long said only the Supreme Court can decide the case because it will have to limit the reach of Congress to regulate guns. The Supreme Court is expected to decide next year whether to accept the request.

The advocates, led by the Montana Shooting Sports Association, have had legal support from the attorneys general from the pro-gun states of Montana, Utah, Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming. States that have formally passed a version of Firearms Freedom Act include Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Tennessee, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

MSSA president Gary Marbut has said he wants to manufacture a small, bolt-action youth-model rifle called the “Montana Buckaroo” for sale in Montana. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms told Marbut such a gun would be illegal under Montana law, prompting a lawsuit by the group against the U.S. attorney general.

Marbut said high court decisions dating back to 1942 dealing with certain interstate commerce need to be reversed. The request to the Supreme Court argues the rulings have allowed more concentration of power with the federal government, creating problems like more national debt and the potential for abuses of power.

“Without the centralization of so much regulatory power in the federal government, tyranny would be a lot less likely to occur,” the argument reads.

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