Montana House Passes Bill to Authorize Firearms on Post Office Property, Defying Federal “Law”

By Mike Maharrey

Today, the Montana House passed a bill that would authorize a person to carry a handgun on U.S. Postal Service property in the state and set the foundation to nullify in effect an unconstitutional federal firearms regulation.

Rep. Randy Brodehl (R-Kalispell) introduced House Bill 246 (HB246) on Jan. 13. The legislation would allow handguns in U.S. Post Office buildings and on their property.

(1) A person may carry a lawfully possessed firearm on any portion of property open to the public and owned or leased by the United States postal service, including within postal service stores or mailrooms or on adjacent sidewalks, streets, and parking lots.

(2) A person may store a firearm, rifle, or shotgun in a vehicle temporarily parked on postal service property while the person is conducting postal service business.

HB246’s effectiveness lies in the refusal to cooperate with enforcement of federal law. The bill would prohibit state or local law enforcement from enforcing federal regulations prohibiting firearms on U.S. Postal Service Property.

A federal law or regulation making it unlawful for a person to carry a firearm on postal service property or to store a firearm, rifle, or shotgun in a vehicle temporarily parked on postal service property is not effective in this state and may not be enforced by a peace officer or other official with the authority to enforce a law or regulation concerning the carrying or possession of firearms in this state.

Montana Shooting Sports Association noted:

This bill would prohibit enforcement by state and local officers of federal laws making it a crime to have a firearm in a vehicle in a U.S. Post Office parking lot, or inside a Post Office building.

Federal law currently bans persons from possessing or carrying firearms on USPS property.

The House passed HB246 by a 60-39 vote.

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EFFECTIVE

While passage of HB246 would not physically stop the federal government from prosecuting a person arrested on USPS property with a firearm, it would remove the most important layer of enforcement. Without state or local police cooperation, who would make the arrests? Without such assistance, the federal government would have a difficult time enforcing its law. The post office would have to rely on federal law enforcement agencies to patrol Montana USPS facilities and make arrests under federal law. It simply does not have the resources to do this effectively. Passage of HB246 would nullify in effect the federal law.



Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” represents an extremely effectively method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership from the states.

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.

The federal government relies heavily on state cooperation to implement and enforce almost all of its laws, regulations and acts – including gun laws. By simply withdrawing this necessary cooperation, states can nullify in effect many federal actions. As noted by the National Governor’s Association during the partial government shutdown of 2013, “states are partners with the federal government on most federal programs.”

“Partnerships don’t work too well when half the team quits,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “By withdrawing all resources and participation in federal gun control schemes, the states can effectively bring them down.”

LEGAL BASIS

Although the Constitution delegates power to the federal government “to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States,” the Second Amendment prohibits any law that infringes on the right to keep and bear arms. The regulations prohibiting firearms on USPS property violates the Second Amendment.

Provisions withdrawing state and local enforcement of federal law in HB246 rest on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program. The anti-commandeering doctrine is based primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone.

We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.

WHAT’S NEXT

HB246 will now move to the Montana Senate for further consideration.

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, where this article first appeared. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at MichaelMaharrey.com and like him on Facebook HERE

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8 Comments on "Montana House Passes Bill to Authorize Firearms on Post Office Property, Defying Federal “Law”"

  1. TripletMom1993 | February 1, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Reply

    The Federal ban is unconstitutional. This is a step in the right direction! Next should be open carry in all state government buildings!!

    • MondayMorningQB | February 4, 2017 at 5:28 am | Reply

      It’s ridiculous that post offices (and esp the VA) are gun free zones. Government buildings are targets…easy… soft targets. Packed with innocents in long lines, no easy escape just like airports.

  2. Next we allow machinguns, sbr’s, sbs’s and suppressors.

  3. Post offices are US government facilities, state law cannot over ride that. Frell the law I carry any way

    • MondayMorningQB | February 4, 2017 at 5:34 am | Reply

      If I’m there it is not a gun free zone. Many are doing the same. I’m a mom with kids. I couldn’t live with myself if the day I needed my firearm it was at home because of a VA appointment or picking up my mail at the post office. I pray that day never comes, but these refugees play real dirty.

  4. WatchmanofEzekiel33 | February 1, 2017 at 6:34 pm | Reply

    What part of “Shall not be infringed” do people not understand. Our Founding Fathers knew exactly what it would mean in our time today and beyond.

    • your moron founding fathers built a fascist and militarist and passionately violent nation, and you are supporting it. Saddening.

  5. Stupid yankee people and their obsession with firearms.
    The military industrial complex is similing at the stupidity of some usa people who think they are true progressive (unlike obomber) and oppose war and the MIC, but are so in love with their guns.

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