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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Montana Lawmakers Push Back Against Federal Gun Laws

Rep. Art Wittich (R) HD68
Montana Legislature
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Montana lawmakers continue to look for ways to curb what they see as overreach by the federal government.

Republican Representative Art Wittich of Bozeman is sponsoring a bill to bar Montana agencies from enforcing new federal gun laws. Wittich told the Senate Judiciary Committee state and local police need to know they don’t have to go along with what he called Congress’s anti-gun agenda.

"The federal government has taken a hostile approach towards the second amendment," Wittich said, "and what this does is assure Montanans that their law enforcement people will be recognizing their second-amendment rights."

Law enforcement groups spoke out against the proposal. Jim Smith with the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association said the bill would “drive a wedge” between federal agencies and local law enforcement.

"They’re trained and oriented to cooperate with other law enforcement agencies, federal, state, local and tribal; and a bill like this doesn’t help that cooperative ethic," Smith said.

Wittich responded that his bill, House Bill 203, wasn’t intended to make life easier for county sheriffs, but to protect citizens from the “least ethical” of law enforcement people. The Committee took no immediate action on the bill.

Legislators this year introduced 35 bills like this one dealing with federal-state relations, usually by curbing federal powers inside Montana’s borders. Most of those bills expired from inaction when the legislature took its mid-session break last week. Wittich’s bill is one of the survivors, having passed in the House in early February.

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