Judge Dismisses Lawsuit for State-Controlled Firearm Regulation

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge in Missoula has dismissed a lawsuit filed by gun rights advocates and the political muscle of pro-gun states seeking freedom from federal gun laws, a move that the advocates promised to appeal.

The decision Wednesday from U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy was expected since his magistrate a month ago recommended tossing out the lawsuit because Congress has the authority to regulate firearms with its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

Molloy sided with the U.S. Department of Justice, which argued Congress’ ability to regulate guns and other items through the “commerce clause” of the U.S. Constitution had long ago been decided in courts.

The lawsuit involving Montana, Utah, Alabama, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and West Virginia argued that states should decide which rules, if any, would control the sale and purchase of guns and paraphernalia made inside their borders.

The 10th Amendment of the Constitution assures that the federal government only has those powers that are specifically given to it by the Constitution, the states said.

Gun control advocates who joined in the case welcomed the decision.

“We are pleased that the court rejected this dangerous, misguided and unconstitutional law,” Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement. “It is already far too easy for dangerous people to get deadly weapons. There is no reason for Montana or other states to allow gun sales without the Brady background checks that help keep guns away from criminals.”

The issue was launched last year with “firearm freedoms act” laws backed by the Montana Shooting Sports Association first in Montana. That gun group led the court battle.

“We’ve believed all along that the federal District Court cannot grant the relief we request. We seek to overturn a half-century of bad precedent,” Gary Marbut, MSSA president, said in a statement. “Only the U.S. Supreme Court can do that. In that light, the pending dismissal by the District Court means little except that we are now free to move to the next step of the process.”