Montana – -(AmmoLand.com)- The Montana Board of Regents (BoR) voted this morning to pursue litigation in an attempt to disallow the campus carry feature of Montana Shooting Sports Associations HB 102. The surprise for me was that it was a unanimous vote.
The BoR believes and will argue in court, that having been created by Article X, Section 9(2)(a) of the Montana Constitution, it somehow becomes some sort of super agency that is above any further authority in the Constitution.
Unlike the executive branch, the Legislature, local governments, and every other entity created by the Constitution, the BoR believes that it is exempt from the limitations imposed by the Declaration of Rights in Article II of the Constitution.
HB 102 specifically declares at Section 5 that the BoR is not exempt from the reservations of power that we the people have reserved to ourselves in the Declaration of Rights. The rights reservations to which the BoR is subject are specified in Section 5 of HB 102 to include freedom of speech, assembly, religion, press, privacy, search and seizure, the right to bear arms, and more.
Thus, the BoR believes itself to be above all of this. Under this lame legal theory, if the BoR wishes to hold criminal trials without juries and execute people for speech it doesn’t like, or because someone practices an unapproved religion, it would be free to do so.
This is all very strange, but it is about power for a governmental institution that has long had the bit in its teeth and will not willingly relinquish that power.
Meanwhile, the wild card in this is the Montana judiciary, including the Montana Supreme Court, which has long demonstrated that it is capable of amazing legal contortions to uphold state power. It is possible that the judiciary will declare that the color of new snow is black, or pull some similar legal trick to uphold the BoR power and nix campus carry under HB 102. We’ll see.
Expect the BoR lawsuit to request a temporary injunction against HB 102, holding it in abeyance while the lawyers duke it out in court, a process that could take months or years. Expect the courts (out of “an abundance of caution” don’t you know) to grant that injunction.
Meanwhile, Montana Shooting Sports Association is gearing up its legal team.
We’ve got that covered. Our very pro-gun Attorney General, Austin Knudsen, will mount the primary defense of HB 102 on behalf of the State of Montana. However, we are looking for some sympathetic attorneys willing to cover ancillary issues in amicus briefs. If you know any attorneys who want in on this circus (albeit important circus), please have them contact me.
Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana