Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill on Friday that would prohibit law enforcement officials and other state employees from enforcing federal restrictions on most guns and ammunition.
Today, I proudly signed Rep. Hinkle's law prohibiting federal overreach into our Second Amendment-protected rights, including any federal ban on firearms.
— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) April 23, 2021
Arizona’s Doug Ducey signed a similar law last month. And Oklahoma is ready to declare itself a “gun sanctuary state” as a bill is headed for Governor Kevin Stitt’s desk.
These bills are obvious parallels to city and state efforts to declare themselves “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants, preventing local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. But this is nullification — a dubious legal argument that may not find much sympathy in federal courts.
Montana is one of at least a dozen states that have sought to nullify new gun restrictions this year. The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature has attempted to pass similar measures into law for almost a decade. Such bills were vetoed by former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
In Arkansas, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed a similar measure Friday, saying it would jeopardize law enforcement and the public. A similar measure was signed into law earlier this month in Arizona.
The primary argument against Second Amendment “sanctuaries” is that they would jeopardize cooperation with federal law and thereby endanger the public. Some claim that such collaboration is essential to protect public safety, including in cases of domestic violence and drug offenses.
But President Joe Biden and the Democrats are about to place the right to bear arms in danger. The Democrats may make a gun control bill a candidate for reconciliation in the Senate, where they’ll only need 51 votes to undermine gun rights. Efforts to nullify federal law are inevitable and would almost certainly end up in the Supreme Court.
It should come as no surprise that Montana would help lead the way in defending Second Amendment rights. Just recently, State Rep. Caleb Hinkle — the author of the bill Gianforte just signed — proposed adding guns to the state flag. The bill failed, but there’s little doubt Montanans love their guns.
Gianforte has positioned himself as a champion of the Second Amendment. Earlier this year he signed a bill into law that allows concealed firearms to be carried in most places without a permit. It also expands where guns can be carried, including university campuses and the Statehouse.
Mass shootings are used to stampede people into supporting restrictions on their constitutional rights — just like political violence is being used to justify restrictions on First Amendment rights. Using fear as a political weapon is always dangerous no matter who is wielding it.