BOISE - Idaho has joined a federal court case in Montana arguing that locally made and used guns should be exempt from all federal laws, including registration requirements.
It’s a follow-up to the “Idaho Firearms Freedom Act” that state lawmakers enacted this year at the urging of Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, who said the bill wasn’t really about gun rights. Instead, Harwood told fellow lawmakers, the measure was intended to spark a federal court case designed to expand states’ rights.
“With few viable avenues to assert their political will, states that have enacted laws similar to Montana’s Firearms Freedom Act are clamoring to restore the proper balance between state and federal government power,” according to a “friend of the court” brief filed this week on behalf of the states of Idaho, Utah, Alabama, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The brief was prepared by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who will represent the group of states in the case; Idaho and the others signed on to his brief.
“We have an obligation to defend that state statute,” said Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.
Asked about Idaho’s chances in the case, Wasden said, “That’s a good question - we’ll just go through the proceeding and find out.”
Shurtleff said with a laugh, “If we didn’t do anything, we’d have zero chance of success.”
He said, “It’s very clear … for 100 years the courts have allowed Congress to regulate just about anything through what we believe is an over-expansion of the Commerce Clause. We believe it’s a good way to challenge that.”
With the current configuration of the U.S. Supreme Court, Shurtleff said, “I think we have a reasonable chance of success.”
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has filed a motion to dismiss the case on several grounds, including lack of standing, lack of jurisdiction, and pre-emption of the state laws by federal law under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The states’ brief urges the court not to grant the motion.