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Supreme Court declines to review Montana gun law

Alaska one of nine states with gun law

Posted: February 25, 2014 - 1:01am

BILLINGS, Mont. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined for the second time to review a Montana law that exempts from federal regulation guns that are made and kept in the state.

The high court denied a petition from Montana Attorney General Tim Fox to review prior court rulings against the state law.

Fox said Monday in a statement issued by his office that he was disappointed with the ruling, which he called “unfortunate.” He said the state has no further recourse.

Justices in January had ejected a related petition from Gary Marbut with the Montana Shooting Sports Association.

Montana’s Legislature passed a law in 2009 that says firearms that remain in the state where they were manufactured are not subject to Congress’ authority to regulate interstate commerce.

At least eight other states — Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Tennessee, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming — have since passed similar laws.

Marbut — who helped write the 2009 law — said Monday the issue could yet be revived if a plaintiff files a lawsuit in another state that falls within a different federal court circuit. He planned to talk with gun advocates in coming days to determine the potential for another suit.

Gun-control advocates have said the state laws would allow felons to obtain guns without background checks and make it harder to trace guns used in crimes.

Gun advocates had said only the Supreme Court could decide the issue because it would limit the reach of Congress to regulate guns.

Marbut filed his lawsuit after the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms told him it would be illegal for him to manufacture a bolt-action youth-model rifle called the “Montana Buckaroo” for sale in Montana under the new state law.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said last year that prior rulings from the Supreme Court already decided the issue in favor of federal regulation.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was named as the defendant in the case. The U.S. Justice Department waived its right to respond to the state’s petition.

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