A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Friday (Aug. 23) means one step forward and one step back for the Montana Shooting Sports Association in its battle to validate the Montana Firearms Freedom Act.

Gary Marbut
Photo courtesy of Gary Marbut

MSSA President Gary Marbut said Friday that the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court was the best that could be expected.

"The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals finally ruled on our appeal of MSSA v Holder, the lawsuit to validate the principles of the Montana Firearms Freedom Act," Marbut said. "That act, passed in 2009 by the Montana legislature, stated that any firearms made and retained in Montana are not subject to any federal authority under the power given to congress by the constitution to regulate commerce among the states."

Marbut traced the path of legal actions over the Firearms Freedom Act.

"We had filed that lawsuit with the district court, but it was dismissed there claiming that I didn't have standing for the lawsuit," Marbut said. "But, fortunately, the Ninth Circuit reversed that decision of the district court. However, they did hold, as we expected, that they, the Ninth Circuit, could not overturn U.S. Supreme Court precedent, so they held against us in the merits of the lawsuit. That's fine, because we want to get to the Supreme Court in order to do what we want, which is to roll back a half-century plus of bad commerce clause precedent."

Marbut speculated on what might happen should the U.S. Supreme Court agree to hear the lawsuit.

"Will they do what we want, which is roll back all this commerce clause precedent that gives the federal government the right to do as it dang-well pleases, or will they begin to trim the sails of the federal government, as we think needs to be done?" Marbut said.

Marbut said he has already begun moving forward, should the Supreme Court rule in favor of the MSSA, by proposing the design and manufacture of a rifle especially for youth.

"I had proposed to make a youth model .22 caliber bolt-action rifle called the Montana Buckaroo," Marbut said. "It would be made exclusively for Montanans and could not cross the state line, according to the Montana Firearms Freedom Act. In fact, I already have 300 to 400 orders pending for the Montana Buckaroo, if we can ever resolve the legal hurdles."

Marbut said he has even had requests for the youth rifle from out-of-state.

"I had somebody from Arizona contact me and wanted to order six of them," Marbut said. "I told them I can't do that, because the rifles can't leave Montana, so the lady said, 'Fine, I'll donate them to hunter safety programs in Montana.'"

Montana Shooting Sports Association President Gary Marbut

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