(August 23, 2013 – for immediate release)
Ninth Circuit Rules in Firearms Freedom Act Case
MISSOULA, MONT. – The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals released its opinion today in MSSA v. Holder, the lawsuit brought in federal court to validate the principles of the Montana Firearms Freedom Act (MFFA). The MFFA was enacted by the Montana Legislature and signed into law by then Governor Brian Schweitzer in 2009. The MFFA declares that any firearms made and retained in Montana are not subject to any federal regulation under the power given to Congress in the U.S. Constitution to regulate commerce among the states. The MFFA uses firearms as a vehicle to challenge federal commerce clause power.
Plaintiffs in MSSA v. Holder are the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA), the Second Amendment Foundation, and Gary Marbut, President of MSSA. To set up the legal challenge, Marbut determined to manufacture a youth-model, .22 caliber, bolt-action rifle called the Montana Buckaroo. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms informed Marbut that any such unlicensed manufacture would be illegal under federal law.
Despite Marbut’s BATF-prohibited plans to make the Montana Buckaroo, the federal District Court ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the lawsuit, and dismissed the lawsuit. MSSA appealed this dismissal to the Ninth Circuit.
In its long-awaited ruling today, the Ninth Circuit reversed the federal District Court on the standing issue, saying that Marbut has standing to bring the challenge, but held that existing Supreme Court precedent was against plaintiffs on the merits of the lawsuit.
Marbut commented, This was about as good of a ruling as we could have expected from the Ninth Circuit. We must get to the U.S. Supreme Court to accomplish our goal of overturning 70 years of flawed Supreme Court rulings on the interstate commerce clause. We knew that the Ninth Circuit couldn’t help us with that. Only the Supreme Court can overturn Supreme Court precedent. However, now that the standing question is resolved in our favor, we have the green light to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Marbut says the attorneys involved are already beginning to work on the appeal process.
Marbut continued, The time is ripe in America for states to challenge federal power, from Obamacare to indefinite detention, to illegal spying on U.S. Citizens and media, to IRS abuses of power, and more. It was the states which created this federal government that has grown to become such a monster. It’s time for the states to get their creature back on a leash. With MSSA v. Holder, we will offer the Supreme Court a chance to do just that.
Since the MFFA was initially enacted in Montana in 2009, nine other states have enacted clones of the MFFA, and 20-some additional states have introduced MFFA-clone bills. The lawsuit to validate the MFFA principles, MSSA v. Holder, has attracted many intervenors and amicus curiae parties. These include the State of Montana, the attorneys general of eight other states, Montana legislators, legislators from other states, the Goldwater Institute, Gun Owners Foundation, the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, the CATO Institute, the Weapons Collectors Society of Montana, the Pacific Legal Foundation, and others.
More information about the Firearms Freedom Act movement and lawsuit is available at:
Information: Gary Marbut, 406-549-1252
L to R Nick Dranias, attorney for Goldwater Institute; Gary Marbut; Quentin Rhoades, attorney for Marbut, MSSA
In a courtroom gun fight that has the potential to disrupt many of Barack Obama’s plans for national gun lists, laws and limits, attorneys have told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the U.S. Constitution does not give Washington unlimited authority to bulldoze over state efforts to protect the constitutional rights of their citizens.
At issue is the years-old Montana Firearms Freedom Act, which was argued before the appeals court in a special session in Portland, Ore.
The law simply says firearms made, sold and kept in Montana are not subject to federal interstate commerce regulations.
Attorney Nick Dranias, who represented the amicus parties of the Goldwater Institute and others in the arguments, said the case should be returned to the lower court for discovery and development of evidence, because it is a case of first impression and the lower courts dismissed it without that opportunity.
He asked the judges to remember that the federal government was created by the states and that the states granted certain limited powers to the federal government. Where those rights were not granted to Washington, the states’ people retain all rights….