MISSOULA, Mont. – The Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund today applauded a court ruling clearing the way for Missoula to enforce its public safety ordinance requiring background checks on unlicensed gun sales. The city had asked a Montana state court to overrule a determination by Attorney General Timothy C. Fox that the ordinance is preempted by state law.
Everytown for Gun Safety’s Litigation Team represents the City in the lawsuit along with the Missoula firm of Boone Karlberg P.C. and the Missoula City Attorney. The lawsuit is available here.
STATEMENT FROM PAMELA OWEN, MISSOULA RESIDENT AND A VOLUNTEER WITH THE MONTANA CHAPTER OF MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA:
“This is great news for Missoula. Our city’s leaders shouldn’t have to go to court to implement this common-sense public safety measure, but I’m grateful they did, and our city will be safer because of it.”
STATEMENT FROM ERIC TIRSCHWELL, LITIGATION DIRECTOR FOR EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:
“As the court recognized, Missoula has clear authority to enact this common-sense public safety measure. When cities stand up to advance sensible gun safety policies, Everytown’s litigation team will be there to support and defend them.”
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE LAWSUIT:
In 2016, the Missoula City Council passed a city ordinance that requires criminal background checks on all gun sales (with certain limited exceptions). Although federal law requires licensed gun dealers to conduct criminal background checks on gun sales, a loophole exists that allows unlicensed sales, including sales online and at gun shows, to take place without background checks. Montana is not one of the states that have closed this loophole, and Missoula’s ordinance closed the loophole within city limits.
In the two years leading up to the passage, volunteers with the Montana Chapter of Moms Demand Action collected signatures, showed up en masse at the city council committee meetings and hearings and testified in support of the proposed ordinance. Moms Demand Action is part of Everytown for Gun Safety.
As detailed in the complaint, the office of Montana Attorney General Timothy C. Fox issued a legal opinion that the city’s ordinance is preempted by state law. The Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives had requested the opinion from the Attorney General following its passage by the Missoula City Council.
Missoula challenged Attorney General Fox’s determination and asked the court to issue a declaration that the city can enforce its ordinance. The city’s ordinance “was properly enacted and within the authority of the City of Missoula under Montana law,” the complaint stated.