Missoula Sues to Expand Background Checks for Gun Purchases

City asking judge to overrule Attorney General Tim Fox on ordinance

By Molly Priddy

HELENA — The city of Missoula is suing Montana’s attorney general in a dispute over whether the city can expand background checks to include private gun sales.

An attorney for the city filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Missoula County District Court. It asks a judge to overrule Attorney General Tim Fox’s opinion that Missoula’s background check ordinance is prohibited by state law.

The city passed its ordinance in September 2016 requiring background checks on gun purchases from private, unlicensed sellers. City officials said the ordinance would close a loophole that let people who aren’t allowed to own firearms to buy them.

Fox issued his advisory opinion in January 2017 at the request of Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen.

Fox spokesman Eric Sell said he didn’t have a comment on the lawsuit.

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