Montanans, the Republican Party is here to protect you from federal overreach. That’s the message sent by the passage and signing of HB258, which forbids state and local officials from cooperating with or assisting the federal government’s efforts to restrict our gun rights.
Sponsored by Rep. Jedediah Hinkle (R-HD67) at the behest of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, HB258 was entitled, “An Act Prohibiting the Enforcement of a Federal Ban on or Regulation of Firearms, Magazines, Ammunition, Ammunition Components, or Firearm Accessories.” The bill will make any federal federal gun laws signed after January 1, 2021 effectively null-and-void in the Big Sky State, so far as state or local enforcement is concerned.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Expolosives (known commonly as the ATF or BATF) may still issue regulations at the direction of Joe Biden, such as gun control bans against AR-15 braces earlier this month, and federal agencies may still come to Montana to enforce those regulations. However, state law and county law enforcement may not assist them in their efforts.
It is unclear if HB258 will allow those who are suspected of violating new federal gun statutes in county jails, a pivotal and key tool that’s often necessary for the feds to enforce their rules, but Montana Gazette has sought clarity from MSSA President Gary Marbut and will update this article in an editor’s note with that information.
Nearly identical bills were also passed by the legislature in 2013, 2015, and 2017, but each were vetoed by the state’s Democrat governor. The bill was just signed, however, by Montana’s new Republican governor, Greg Gianforte.