Missoula City Attorney Jim Nugent appeared on the KGVO Montana Morning show on Wednesday morning to explain his decision to approve the proposed city council gun registration ordinance.

Nugent referred to the legal opinion published on the City Attorney's website.

The opinion states the reason for Nugent's favorable conclusion.

"Pursuant to §45-8-351(2)(a) MCA the Montana State Legislature has explicitly empowered Montana local governments to, for public safety purposes, prevent and suppress the possession of firearms by (1) convicted felons, (2) adjudicated mentally incompetent persons, (3) illegal aliens and (4) minors."

"There are ample sources in the law currently that allow the Missoula City Council to at least consider this proposal," Nugent said. "What the ordinance at this stage is proposing is just to try and ensure that the private sales transactions are somehow doing a background check so that people who are convicted felons, adjudicated mentally incompetent, illegal aliens or minors might not be eligible for the acquisition of a gun, can be prevented from getting that gun."

Nugent said the second amendment of the constitution is not immune to interpretation, just as the first amendment's right to free speech has its limitations.

"Everyone knows you just can't walk into a crowded theater and yell 'fire', and just like that, there is no absolute right with respect to the right to keep and bear arms," he said. "It'll be up to the courts to determine the legality of the ordinance."

When the ordinance was first proposed, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said the city's proposed ordinance violated state law. When contacted Wednesday morning, Fox's office said he had no comment on Nugent's legal opinion.

The issue will be discussed at Wednesday's city council Public Safety committee meeting.

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