Ninth Circuit Rules in Firearms Freedom Act Case – 8/23/13
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.