Montana lawmakers hear bill to block federal firearms bans

HELENA — Montana lawmakers on Tuesday considered a measure that would prohibit local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal bans on firearms and ammunition. Supporters of the bill told the House Judiciary Committee that it would protect the Second Amendment from stiffer gun control laws that could be imposed by the Democrat-dominated U.S. Congress and the administration of President Joe Biden. Bill sponsor Rep. Jedediah Hinkle, R-Belgrade, said "the time has come now to fortify Montana’s gun owners against a very likely attack on our constitutionally protected freedoms." The bill would ban state employees from enforcing or implementing federal bans on firearms, magazines or ammunition, except in certain cases, including those related to fully automatic firearms, violent felons, and domestic violence. The Republican-controlled Legislature has attempted to pass the measure into law for almost a decade. Similar bills were vetoed by former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock in 2013, 2015 and 2017. Republican lawmakers hope the measure will find a more favorable fate on the desk of Gov. Greg Gianforte, the state’s first Republican governor in 16 years. In vetoing the bills, Bullock wrote that they would "put law enforcement officers in the position of violating laws they are sworn to uphold."

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