Montana Lawmaker Questions Legality of Missoula Ordinance

State Speaker of the House says ordinance for gun-sale background checks is illegal

By Molly Priddy

MISSOULA — A Montana legislator is asking the state’s attorney general to review the legality of a city ordinance requiring background checks for private gun sales.

Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives Austin Knudsen said in a statement Wednesday that Missoula’s new ordinance is in direct violation of state law, KGVO-AM reported. The Montana Code says a local government may not restrict or regulate the purchase, sale or transfer of a firearm.

Knudsen also argued that the new rule violates the Montana Constitution and the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Knudsen will ask Attorney General Tim Fox for his legal opinion.

The Missoula City Council voted Monday to require the background checks for most private firearm sales or trades. The rule makes some exceptions for family transfers, hunting and emergency self-defense.

Missoula is the first city in Montana to require such a background check.

Councilor Bryan Von Lossberg wrote the ordinance and says it is the responsible thing to do as a gun owner. He also believes the requirement could prevent suicides and gun violence by a partner.

The law is unclear about where citizens can obtain a background check. Some dealers have told Von Lossberg they won’t facilitate such checks.

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