DOJ: News Release

McGrath Joins Gun Rights Letter

HELENA – Attorney General Mike McGrath on Monday joined 17 other state attorneys general in signing a letter supporting U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s interpretation of the Second Amendment.

The letter states that the attorneys general agree that the Second Amendment clearly protects “the right of individuals to keep and bear firearms” and notes that right limits action by Congress or the executive branch of government.

Last fall Ashcroft explained his interpretation in a letter to federal prosecutors praising an appeals court decision that found that the Second Amendment does protect individual rights. He recently announced that the U.S. government will, in the future, adopt this approach in official court proceedings.

“The interpretation that the Second Amendment applies to individuals is the correct legal reading,” McGrath said, “For too many years, the federal government has adopted a different interpretation.”

“A state like Montana is a prime illustration,” said McGrath, a democrat. “For many Montanans, hunting is a family tradition. We have a strong hunting heritage in this state. The use and control of firearms by individuals is the basis of that tradition.”

The letter includes references to a number of scholarly articles published in recent years supporting this interpretation, including an article written by noted civil libertarian Laurence Tribe.

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