From AP/t Alphecca] [h:
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana is trying to trigger a battle over gun control — and perhaps make a larger point about what many folks in this ruggedly independent state regard as a meddlesome federal government.
In a bill passed by the Legislature earlier this month, the state is asserting that guns manufactured in Montana and sold in Montana to people who intend to keep their weapons in Montana are exempt from federal gun registration, background check and dealer-licensing rules because no state lines are crossed.
That notion is all but certain to be tested in court.
The immediate effect of the law could be limited, since Montana is home to just a few specialty gun makers, known for high-end hunting rifles and replicas of Old West weapons, and because their out-of-state sales would automatically trigger federal control.
Still, much bigger prey lies in Montana's sights: a legal showdown over how far the federal government's regulatory authority extends.
"It's a gun bill, but it's another way of demonstrating the sovereignty of the state of Montana," said Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who signed the bill.
Obviously, the Feds are not too happy about this:
Carrie DiPirro, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, had no comment on the legislation. But the federal government has generally argued that it has authority under the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution to regulate guns because they can so easily be transported across state lines....
Critics say exempting guns from federal laws anywhere would undermine efforts to stem gun violence everywhere.
"Guns cross state lines and they do so constantly, and this is a Sagebrush Rebellion-type effort to light some sort of fire and get something going that's pleasing to the gun nuts and that has very little actual sense," said Peter Hamm, communications director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
In a 2005 case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the enforcement of federal laws against marijuana in California, even if the drug is for medical purposes and is grown and used within the state. The court found that since marijuana produced in California is essentially indistinguishable from pot grown outside the state, the federal government must have the authority to regulate both to enforce national drug laws.
Montana, of course, has a rejoinder:
Randy Barnett, the lawyer and constitutional scholar who represented the plaintiff in the California case, said that Montana could argue that its "Made in Montana"-stamped guns are unique and sufficiently segregated as to lie outside federal regulation.
Supporters of the measure say the main purpose is not extending gun freedoms, but curbing what they regard as an oppressive interpretation of the interstate commerce clause and federal overreach into such things as livestock management and education.
Is there a reasonable case to be made that States retain some power to draw the line at the Feds regulating items because they might be carried across State lines? Proponents of Statism will suggest that there should never be an occasion when the sovereignty of the State could be opposed to the power of the Federal government because, because ... because ...
Well, why not?