City of Missoula v. FoxAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of the City of Missoula declaring that a city ordinance was not prohibited under Montana law, holding that the district court erred by concluding that the City may require background checks on firearm transfers without violating the statutory prohibition upon local government regulation of the "purchase, sale or other transfer" of firearms.
In 2016, the City of Missoula, a self-governing municipality, adopted Ordinance 3581, which imposed a requirement upon persons purchasing or otherwise receiving a firearm in the City to pass a national instant background check. The Attorney General issued an opinion concluding that cities with self-government powers were prohibited by Montana law from enforcing a local regulation or ordinance requiring background checks of firearm sales or transfers. The City filed this action challenging the Attorney General's opinion and seeking a declaration that the ordinance was lawful. The district court concluded that the ordinance was authorized under the statutory exception in Mont. Code Ann. 45-8-351(2) and entered summary judgment for the City. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the express statutory prohibition upon cities in section 45-8-351(1) is a limitation on the City's self-governing powers.