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A Montana City Is Moving Toward DIY Universal Background Checks, and It Thinks It’s Got the Law on Its Side

September 28, 2015

The Trace

September 25, 2015


Missoula, Montana, is a liberal town deep in the heart of the gun-loving High West. It sits in a state not known for taking kindly to gun laws — in fact, since 1985, when the legislature passed what’s known as a “preemption” law, Montana has barred municipalities from regulating gun access beyond what applies throughout Big Sky Country. That state rule precludes most local efforts to do much about gun violence.

But one group of Missoula City Council members now believes that very preemption rule could justify a new measure that would make one of the strongest (and hotly-contested) gun violence prevention measures law in their city. This week, the Council’s Public Safety and Health Committee voted to bring forward to the full body a measure making background checks universal in Missoula, even for private gun sales. It’s only the first step in a long legislative process, but a sign of some confidence in the measure.

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