Appeals court knocks down Montana law similar to Kansas’ Second Amendment Protection Act
Topeka — A federal appeals court has ruled against a state law like the one in Kansas that declares federal firearms regulations don't apply to guns made and kept in the state.
Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court decision against the 2009 Montana Firearms Freedom Act.
The 9th Circuit doesn't include Kansas, but the decision focuses on a law that is similar to the Second Amendment Protection Act, which was approved by the Kansas Legislature this year and signed by Gov. Sam Brownback.
The Second Amendment Protection Act excludes from federal regulation any gun made or owned in Kansas. It will allow law enforcement in Kansas to charge and convict federal authorities with crimes if they try to enforce action against a Kansas-protected gun.
In April, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter to Brownback saying that the Kansas law was unconstitutional. Holder also warned that the federal government "will take all appropriate action, including litigation if necessary, to prevent the State of Kansas from interfering with the activities of federal officials enforcing federal law.”
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt could not be reached for comment on the appeals court ruling. When the Second Amendment Protection Act was being debated in the Legislature, Schmidt said it would cost $625,000 to defend against legal challenges of the law, according to a memo from the Kansas Legislative Research Department.
In the Montana case, the Justice Department successfully argued that the courts have already decided Congress can use its power to regulate interstate commerce to set standards on such items as guns. Some gun-control advocates sided with the federal argument, saying that "firearm freedom acts" would allow felons to obtain guns without background checks and make it harder to trace guns used in crimes, according to The Associated Press.
The Montana Shooting Sports Association said it had expected the appeals court would rule against the law.
The group’s president, Gary Marbut, argued in the case that he wanted to manufacture a small, bolt-action youth-model rifle called the "Montana Buckaroo" for sale in Montana. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms told Marbut such a gun would be illegal under Montana law.