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Thread: Montanans insist on gun rights. The Washington Times

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    http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/...plate=nextpage

    Montana officials are warning that if the Supreme Court rules in the D.C. gun ban case that the right to keep and bear arms protects only state-run militias like the National Guard, then the federal government will have breached Montana's statehood contract.

    Nobody is raising flags for the Republic of Montana, but nobody is kidding, either. So far, 39 elected Montana officials have signed a resolution declaring that a court ruling of the Second Amendment is a right of states and not of individuals would violate Montana's compact.

    "The U.S. would do well to keep its contractual promise to the states that the Second Amendment secures an individual right now as it did upon execution of the statehood contract," Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson said in a Feb. 15 letter to The Washington Times.

    The resolution also was signed by Rep. Denny Rehberg, Montana's lone Republican congressman, and state Sen. Roy Brown, who is running to unseat Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat.

    The dispute goes back more than a century. Back in 1889, the settlers of the Montana territory struck a deal with the federal government: They agreed to join the union, and the government agreed that individuals had the right to bear arms.

    That has worked fine for the past 118 years, but the Supreme Court is expected next month to hear oral argument in District of Columbia v. Heller, the appeal of a federal court decision striking down the District's gun-ownership ban on Second Amendment grounds.

    The high court has not issued a broad ruling on Second Amendment law in almost 70 years, including the key question of whether it provides an individual right, like speech and jury trial, or a "collective right" held by state governments. Many constitutional scholars, both liberal and conservative, say this case gives the justices an opportunity to rule on that matter.

    The Montana statehood contract, which was preserved as Article I of the state constitution, specifies gun ownership as an individual right: "The right of any person to keep or bear arms ... shall not be called in question."



    "There was a promise made to Montana that the right to bear arms was an individual right," said Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association and the author of a book on Montana gun law.

    What's more, he said, a "collective-rights" interpretation would have been impossible because Montana had no state-run militia in the 1880s.

    "It's pretty disingenuous as an argument," said Mr. Marbut. "At the time, they had no image of what a National Guard was. But history and logic don't always prevail in these matters."

    Not all firearms advocates support the logic of the Montana resolution. Dave Kopel, a lawyer who runs the Independence Institute's Second Amendment Project in Golden, Colo., said the argument doesn't pass legal muster.

    "Of course the historical evidence is unanimous that in 1889, the Second Amendment was considered to be an individual right comparable to the individual right of free speech," Mr. Kopel said in an e-mail. "However, the Montana Constitution's Compact Article does not prove that Montana entered the union contingent on the existence of a personal right to keep and bear arms in the U.S. Constitution."

    At the same time, Mr. Kopel calls the collective-rights argument "totally implausible on every ground, other than desire of the contemporary gun prohibition movement to nullify part of the Constitution."


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    This is a fascinating read. It irks me when I here people say it's a "collective" right or a "right" "given" to us by government.. The government doesn't have rights, people do. The government has powers "granted" by the people and are held in check... or at least are supposed to be.

    I hope Montana beats the drums about this so it brings more attention to the matter and maybe people will wake up one day and say... "you know what, the national guard didn't exist when the constitution was written, I wonder if it really IS an individual right?"
    Peace through superior firepower

    Luke 11:21
    "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.

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    Doug Huffman wrote:
    SNIP Not all firearms advocates support the logic of the Montana resolution. Dave Kopel, a lawyer who runs the Independence Institute's Second Amendment Project in Golden, Colo., said the argument doesn't pass legal muster.

    "Of course the historical evidence is unanimous that in 1889, the Second Amendment was considered to be an individual right comparable to the individual right of free speech," Mr. Kopel said in an e-mail. "However, the Montana Constitution's Compact Article does not prove that Montana entered the union contingent on the existence of a personal right to keep and bear arms in the U.S. Constitution."

    Much as I respect Dave Kopel, I think he's missing something on this one.

    Of course, the federal government would use every legal device to say it wasn't broken. Of course, they would.

    If Montana says the contract would bebroken, the contract would be broken. What does Montana care if their opponent says it would notbe broken.Montana would not particularly be asking for agreementfrom the feds. They're making a declaration. The fact that they're making the declaration would break the contract because the only arbiter and enforcer of the contract is also the accused breacher. Who is going to enforce the contract by legal process alone over Montana's objection? God? The U.N.?

    About all Kopel does is point out that contract law might not be the most persuasive approach. The question would remain, approach to what? Trying only to influence the US Supreme court? Threatening bigger problems with the feds? An opening gambit in a game, a sort of challenge to see what the opponent will do?

    I've got $5 that says there are fed-spies on their way or already in Montana to ferret out just what exactly Montana is up to, their game plan, their negotiating position, etc. Picture me with a tin-foil hat if you want to, but I'll bet they've been on the radar since their dissent over RealID.

    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    "If Montana says the contract would bebroken, the contract would be broken. What does Montana care if their opponent says it would notbe broken." -- Citizen


    Because wouldn't that then be almost the same thing back in 1861 when the South seceded from the Union? I mean, wasn't the "contract" of the Union seen to have been broken by their "oponnents" (the North)? And then what happened...the shooting started shortly thereafter.

    I'm not saying a shooting war would start against Montana, but its "opponents" would probably seek to impose sanctions of some sort...to force it to "reconsider" its position. And then what.

    I believe it'll be, once again, an isue of State's Rights...which in the case of the Civil War, was only "resolved" by force of arms but never legally. I believe states can LEGALLY secede...it's just that one would expect nasty after-effects if you will, just as before.

    America seems so concerned about hell-hole/hate-America foreign countries having the right of "self-determination" but apparently does not offer this same and supposedly UNIVERSAL right to its own states.

    -- John D.

    (formerly of Colorado Springs, CO)

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    cloudcroft wrote:
    SNIP Because wouldn't that then be almost the same thing back in 1861 when the South seceded from the Union?
    I'm not saying a shooting war would start against Montana, but its "opponents" would probably seek to impose sanctions of some sort...to force it to "reconsider" its position. And then what.
    America seems so concerned about hell-hole/hate-America foreign countries having the right of "self-determination" but apparently does not offer this same and supposedly UNIVERSAL right to its own states.
    1. Yep. Just depends on how Montana wants to manifest their non-participation or non-membership and to what degree.

    2. See if you can dig up the history on Rhode Island. If I've got my facts straight, it was the only State to submit the Constitution to its people for apopularvote. They soundly rejected it. The State refused to sign on initially. Congress replied by embargo-ing them. Rhode Island finally had to give in.

    3. Good point.


    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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