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Billings Gazette - "McGrath Backs Gun Rights in Supreme Court Case"

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Location: Helena, MT

Billings Gazette - "McGrath Backs Gun Rights in Supreme Court Case"

Attorney General Mike McGrath on Monday formally threw Montana's weight behind a friend-of-the-court brief filed Monday in a high-profile gun rights case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Montana, along with 30 other states, signed on to the brief, which was written by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The document asserts that the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment guarantees individual citizens the right to own guns for personal use and is not, as some have argued, a guarantee that only citizen militias, like the National Guard, may have guns.

"At issue here is whether the Second Amendment has any modern meaning and whether it allows individual citizens to have a weapon for private use," said McGrath in a prepared statement. "We believe it does."

The case stems from Washington, D.C.'s ban on handguns. These guns are forbidden in the nation's capital, and rifles and other guns kept in people's homes must be stored either disassembled or with the trigger locked.
Dick Heller, a Washington, D.C., security guard, applied and was turned down for a permit to keep a gun in his home. He took the matter to court and won, arguing that the district's handgun ban violates the Second Amendment.

Both Heller and the government of the District of Columbia asked the Supreme Court to review the matter, a decision which could bring some clarity to the meaning of the right to "keep and bear arms."

The U.S. Constitution specifically states that "a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Some have argued that the right pertains only to militias or citizens in militias, like the National Guard. Others, including McGrath and attorneys general from Florida to Alaska argued in Monday's filing that the right extends to all citizens.

Gun rights groups around the nation have hailed the case as among the most important in U.S. gun law.

The case has also played a bit role in the so far quiet race for Montana attorney general. Term limits bar McGrath from seeking another term, and he is now running for chief justice of the Montana Supreme Court.

Helena lawyer Republican Tim Fox, who is running for attorney general, chided McGrath earlier for not getting involved in the case sooner with a friend-of-the-court filing. McGrath countered that he intended to sign on to the document as soon as it was prepared and filed.

Fellow Republican Lee Bruner, a Butte lawyer also running for attorney general, likewise urged McGrath to get involved in the case.

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