Montana Gov. Signs Statute Banning Police From Enforcing Federal Gun Bans

P. Gardner Goldsmith | April 25, 2021
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Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) signed legislation on April 23 that would effectively prohibit state and local “authorities,” including police, from enforcing federal bans or restrictions on firearms, ammunition, gun accessories, parts, or magazines.

Sponsored by freshman State Rep. Caleb Hinkle (R)Montana House Bill 258, also called the "Montana Federal Firearm, Magazine, and Ammunition Ban Enforcement Prohibition Act,” immediately states its justification, based on the U.S. and Montana constitutions, and cites U.S. Supreme Court precedent pertaining to aspects of the so-called federal “Brady handgun law”:

Section 2. Declaration of authority. [Sections 1 through 4] are done under the authority of the 2nd and 10th amendments to the United States constitution, Article II, section 12, of the Montana constitution, Montana's compact with the United States, and Printz v. U.S., 521 U.S. 898 (1997).

This early statement of constitutional pertinence offered by the statute-writers is something that few legislators – on any level – ever bother offering. But this Montana statute comes at a time when many of the state’s residents -- and many other Americans – are starting to push back against long-creeping attacks on their fundamental human rights.

Related: ‘Biden-Harris Administration’ Unveils 6-Action Plan to ‘Address’ Gun Violence

And Hinkle’s statute is unambiguous when it comes to the definitions and prohibitions. One of the most important definitions being what the statute means by “federal ban.” 

’Federal ban’ means a federal law, executive order, rule, regulation that is enacted, adopted, or becomes effective on or after January 1, 2021, or a new and more restrictive interpretation of a law that existed on January 1, 2021, that infringes upon, calls in question, or prohibits, restricts, or requires individual licensure for or registration of the purchase, ownership, possession, transfer, or use of any firearm, any magazine or other ammunition feeding device, or other firearm accessory.

Shortly thereafter, the legislation provides clear and powerful text nullifying old federal firearm bans and prohibiting the enforcement of future bans that might be passed by the US Legislative Branch or enacted via Executive Order by any President – all of which would be unconstitutional. It is worth offering that section of the bill, for all to see:

Section 4. Prohibition of enforcement. (1) A peace officer, state employee, or employee of a political subdivision is prohibited from enforcing, assisting in the enforcement of, or otherwise cooperating in the enforcement of a federal ban on firearms, magazines, or ammunition and is also prohibited from participating in any federal enforcement action implementing a federal ban on firearms, magazines, or ammunition. 

(2) An employee of the state or a political subdivision may not expend public funds or allocate public resources for the enforcement of a federal ban on firearms, magazines, or ammunition. 

(3) Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit or otherwise limit a peace officer, state employee, or employee of a political subdivision from cooperating, communicating, or collaborating with a federal agency if the primary purpose is not: 

  1. (a)  law enforcement activity related to a federal ban; or 
  2. (b)  the investigation of a violation of a federal ban.

Clearly, Representative Hinkle and the Montanans who supported the bill have had enough of the Biden threats.

For example, as Newsmax and the Associated Press report:

Biden announced this month several executive actions to address gun violence, including a move to crack down on ‘ghost guns,’ homemade firearms that lack serial numbers used to trace them and are often purchased without a background check. The U.S. Justice Department has not yet announced its new rules regarding ghost guns, which are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

And, of course, all of the above are utter affronts to the Second Amendment, moves done with such shameless lawlessness that one wonders what the Founders would have thought of people like Biden and his cohorts in DC.

And Newsmax and the AP remind us:

The President has also called for a ban on assault weapons, but such legislation will likely face an uphill climb.

All over America, people are rising against this federal tyranny, and it seems that the Montana governor is with them. Shortly after signing the legislation, Gianforte stated on his Twitter feed:

Today, I proudly signed Rep. Hinkle's law prohibiting federal overreach into our Second Amendment-protected rights, including any federal ban on firearms. I will always protect our #2A right to keep and bear arms.

But, lest one forget, Montana’s HB 258 does not negate enforcement of so-called federal “restrictions and mandates” on firearms ownership – restrictions and mandates such as requiring gun stores to engage in the “National Instant Criminal Background Check System” (NICS), which not only delays many peacefully minded purchasers from acquiring guns, but also is, like all other federal gun “restrictions,” not sanctioned by the US Constitution.

It is, however, a start, and a bright signal for others to see. Fired from the Montana state capitol in Helena, this is an ascending flare we all can see, and something that other state legislators can repeat, in the great tradition of state nullification of unconstitutional federal statutes that Thomas Jefferson explained in 1798.