Missoula wins suit over gun show ordinance, but AG’s office could appeal

Posted at 3:46 PM, Oct 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-12 18:17:02-04
(MTN News file photo)

MISSOULA – A Missoula judge is upholding the right of the City of Missoula to enact an ordinance requiring background checks for purchases made at gun shows.

But the ruling may prompt Montana Attorney General Tim Fox to appeal the case to the Montana Supreme Court.

Missoula had started work on the ordinance in the fall of 2015, with the city council interested in finding a way to block what was called the “gun show loophole”, where guns sold privately weren’t subject to the same background checks as weapons purchased from regular retailers. After a year of refinement and discussion, the council approved the ordinance in 2016.

But Montana Attorney General Tim Fox ruled that the ordinanceoverstepped the city’s authority under Montana’s Constitution. That kept the city from enacting the rules.

Now, Missoula District Court Judge Dusty Deschamps says Missoula was acting within its powers, that Attorney General Tim Fox’s opinion last year “deprives Missoula of its own authority”.

In a statement to MTN News, the AG’s Director of Communications, John Barnes, says “the state respectfully disagrees with the court’s ruling and maintains Montana law does not allow cities to enact a patchwork of firearm regulations”. Barnes says Deschamps ruled before the state could file its brief, and now it will have to ask for the judge to reconsider his decision, or file an immediate appeal with the Supreme Court.

Reporting by Dennis Bragg for MTN News