Montana House Passes Preemption Bill

The idea behind preemption, at least in part, is that preemption laws create a unified framework of gun laws so that those traveling in the state don’t find themselves breaking some gun law every time they stop for gas. The idea is to keep people from getting stupid with gun laws so that folks don’t become criminals by accident.

It’s pretty straightforward.

Right now, that idea is being put to the test in Pittsburgh, but the reasoning still stands.

Now, Montana is taking steps to make sure it has that same unified framework of gun laws. State legislators took the first big step by passing a bill in the House.

The Montana House on Thursday passed two bills seeking to prohibit local governments from passing strict gun ordinances.

Republican Rep. Matt Regier said his bills are a response to Missoula city ordinances that require background checks for private gun sales and ban weapons in certain public buildings, parks, places of public assembly and polling sites.

Regier argued Wednesday that local governments cannot regulate the concealed carrying of weapons and said his bills would prevent a patchwork of gun restrictions that could cause confusion.

“This bill will clarify our rights as Montana citizens and clarify the power of local authorities,” Regier said.

The first bill passed the House on a 57-42 vote and a second bill, a backup that calls for a referendum on the issue to be placed on the ballot, passed 56-43. The bills now go to the Senate.

The measure follows Missoula passing a background check bill. The state attorney general argued that the city didn’t have the authority, but a judge disagreed.

By passing a preemption law, that eradicates Missoula’s background check requirement.

Which is fine because only an idiot would believe such a thing would work.

Democrats argue that the bill would prevent localities from passing “common sense” gun control measures. Considering their idea of “common sense,” that’s probably a feature, not a bug.

The truth is, the Second Amendment’s text is clear. “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

But I get that anti-gunners don’t buy that argument, so I’ll also point out that local background check ordinances are ridiculously easy to evade even if you want to comply with the letter of the law. A transaction a foot past the city limits doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction, for example. Couple that with the fact that criminals will still get guns and you can see how little such a law will accomplish.

More importantly, it means that someone traveling to Missoula to sell a gun to someone won’t find themselves arrested because they didn’t know it was illegal to do so.

That’s what preemption is meant to do and why it’s so important. The fact that Missoula did pass such a law is all the evidence in the world that it’s important.

Now it’s time for this bill to go to the Senate, get passed there and signed by the governor, and for Montanans to put this silly chapter in their history behind them.