DOJ: News Release

Bullock Defends Second Amendment Rights

Montana Attorney General joins coalition of states to protect the right to keep and bear arms

HELENA – Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock—along with 37 other state attorneys general—has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to recognize that law-abiding Americans have a constitutionally protected, individual right to keep and bear arms.

Bullock and his colleagues have filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of an inner-city community activist in Chicago, Illinois who is prohibited by a Chicago ordinance from possessing a handgun. The activist, Otis McDonald, has been threatened by violent drug dealers because of his efforts to clean up his neighborhood.

The Attorneys General argue that local municipalities cannot disregard the Second Amendment and impose a total ban on handguns, just as they can’t void the right to free speech.

“No matter where you live, the rights guaranteed in our Constitution apply to all Americans and local governments can’t pick and choose which ones they’ll recognize,” Bullock said. “As the Supreme Court has ruled before, the right to bear arms is fundamental and I’m pleased to stand with so many of my colleagues against this attempt to skirt our Constitution.”

In the landmark case District of Columbia vs. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the right to bear arms is a critical liberty interest, essential to preserving individual security and the right to self-defense. Since that decision, lower courts have been divided over whether that guaranteed right applies to people living in all fifty states or just in “federal enclaves” like Washington, D.C., the attorneys general write.

While Chicago has argued that the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller doesn’t apply to state and local municipalities, the states’ brief argues that, “Just as local governments cannot constitutionally act as ‘laboratories’ for initiatives to abrogate their citizens’ right to free speech or their freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, nor can they nullify the fundamental right to keep and bear arms secured by the Second Amendment.”

Bullock and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott—who authored the brief—were joined by their colleagues in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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