Seven AGs support states' rights in Montana case

By John O'Brien | Apr 26, 2010


MISSOULA, Mont. (Legal Newsline) - Seven state attorneys general, including West Virginia's Darrell McGraw, are supporting the state of Montana's defense of its Firearms Freedom Act, which allows the firearms industry to operate without being subjected to federal laws and regulations.

Several other states have passed or are introducing the legislation. It permits the manufacture of firearms, accessories and ammunition in a state to be outside of federal regulations as long as the activities are carried out within the political boundaries of the state and the products remain there.

Seven attorneys general filed an amicus brief April 14 in support of Montana's challenge, in Montana federal court.

"These laws are intended to allow their respective citizens to engage within their states in constitutionally protected activity without burdensome federal oversight and regulation of their solely intrastate activities," the brief says.

"With few viable avenues to assert their political will, states that have enacted laws similar to Montana's Firearms Freedom Act are clamoring to restore the proper balance between State and federal government power."

The other state attorneys general that filed the brief are Utah's Mark Shurtleff, Alabama's Troy King, Idaho's Lawrence Wasden, South Carolina's Henry McMaster, South Dakota's Bruce Salzburg and Wyoming's Marty Jackley.

The brief argues Congress' power under the Commerce Clause should not extend to intrastate commerce.

"The Amici States ask this Court to honor that essential part of our constitutional structure and recognize that the Tenth Amendment is not an empty promise to the states, but a vital guarantor of rights retained by the states, including the right to regulate purely intrastate activities," it says.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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