Background and Alternatives Explored: There is a broad, national consensus that
felons, minors, and people adjudicated as mentally ill by a court should not possess
firearms, and in fact federal law has long prohibited such people from doing so.
Although federal (and state) laws require background checks on persons buying guns
from licensed firearms dealers, there is no federal or state law requiring background
checks for sales and transfers from persons who are not licensed firearms dealers. This
loophole means that criminals, minors, and people adjudicated as mentally ill are able to
purchase and receive firearms despite the legal prohibition.
This draft ordinance aims to close that loophole within the City of Missoula, such that
sale or transfer of a firearm shall take within the city limits unless and until the person
purchasing or otherwise receiving the firearm passes a national instant criminal
background check, even if the sale or transfer is from a private citizen or any other entity
that is not a licensed dealer.
Similar laws have been adopted in other states.
Background checks shall not be required for transfers between immediate family
members, for transfers of curio and relic firearms between collectors or for transfers of
antique firearms, for temporary transfers while hunting or target-shooting or for
competitions, or for temporary transfers for emergency self-defense or while in the
presence of the transferee.
Parties to a transfer made by any person who is not a licensed firearm dealer will meet
at a licensed dealer, where the buyer or transferee will pass a background check before
the sale or transfer may be completed.