MISSOULA — A Montana city will soon require background checks for any private gun sales that occur within its borders.
The Missoula City Council voted 8-4 Monday to require the background checks for most private sales or trades within city limits. It makes exceptions for family transfers, hunting and emergency self-defense.
“Let’s the raise the bar for ourselves,” said Councilwoman Marilyn Marler, speaking to her fellow gun owners. If criminals get a gun, she said, “they won’t get one from me.”
Missoula is the first city in Montana to require a background check on private firearm sales. The law will take effect in 30 days.
Conducting a background check is the responsible thing to do as a gun owner, said Bryan Von Lossberg, the councilman who wrote the ordinance. He believes the requirement could also prevent suicides and gun violence by a partner.
He did, however, acknowledge that background checks and his own law have limitations and says some gun dealers told him they wouldn’t help provide background checks for citizens.
Councilman Jon Wilkins originally abstained from the vote, but he changed his vote to yes after hearing a 7-4 roll call from the other officials. Wilkins tried to amend the bill to remove jail time as a penalty option, but his motion failed.
Jail time is included as an optional penalty for subsequent offenses only.
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