What is our "preemption law"?
Why is it important?

In relation to the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (RKBA), we hear the word "preemption" used.  What is that all about?

First, remember that the RKBA is a "natural right," meaning that it exists in every individual.  It is not a grant of privilege from government.  As a natural right, so our Founders instruct us, it cannot either be taken away or surrendered as a part of the mythical "social contract" in which we all theoretically engage to get along.

Under our western system of political thought, when we form our governments, we limit their powers in two ways:  1) by what we authorize them to do, a limited enumeration of powers, and 2) by the prohibitions we overtly include in the documents by which we charter our governments, often called a constitution.

Of course, our federal government's powers to restrict our RKBA is limited both because such restriction is not within the "enumerated powers" AND by the Second Amendment.  The Second Amendment does not create any rights.  Rather, it says that government may not infringe on that pre-existing right.  For our state government, that restriction on government is contained in Article II, Section 12 of the Montana Constitution.

So far, so good, but what does that have to do with "preemption?"

As individuals, we do not form our city and county governments.  We delegate some measure of political power to the state, and the state enacts laws to allow our city and county governments to form.  Cities and counties are entirely creatures of the state, local voting and local charters notwithstanding.  In Montana, local governments are controlled by Title 7 of the Montana Code Annotated (M.C.A.), which is the collection of laws passed by the Legislature and signed into law by various governors since Montana's territorial days.  Title 7 is the longest title of the M.C.A., running 859 pages of fine print.

Having laid out the types and organization of local governments in Title 7, and the various powers that local governments are allowed to assert, the Legislature felt it wise to pass yet another law limiting local governments' power to restrict firearms.  This is called Montana's "preemption law" and is found in the M.C.A. at 45-8-351.

Thus, our preemption law is basically the Legislature imposing the restrictions of the Montana Constitution upon local governments.  Our preemption law is the implementation of the RKBA as it applies to local governments.

Unfortunately, 15 local governments in Montana have enacted and enforce local gun control, most recently Missoula, despite the RKBA in the Montana Constitution and despite our existing preemption law at 45-8-351.

To counter this, I wrote House Bill 357 for the 2019 Legislature to create LR-130, which alters Montana's preemption law so as to clearly prohibit the restrictions on firearms currently imposed on locals by 15 Montana local governments.  That is, LR-130 further implements the RKBA we the people have reserved to ourselves in the Montana Constitution, and to make sure there is no wiggle room left for local governments to abuse their authority by enforcing local gun control.

LR-130 will be on the ballot this November.  Every Montana gun owner needs to turn out to vote for LR-130.  Every Montana gun owner needs to inform all friends that LR-130 is essential to preserving our RKBA from a patchwork effort across Montana by local governments to eviscerate this important right at the local level.