Missoula Gun Sales


A profound thank you to the Missoula City Councilors who are advancing background checks for all gun sales within Missoula city limits.

The naysayers are many but these council members are doing what they believe is right in the face of nasty opposition.  Just look at the comment section that follows the Missoulian story – some truly offensive stuff there.

The blogs I frequent often have comments about “moral cowards” (usually leveled at people who disagree with a certain premise).  I would venture that the councilors who proposed and support the gun ordinance are showing moral courage.  That’s rare in elected officials.

One of the more reasoned critiques came from Dan Brooks at the Missoula Independent, who is sympathetic to the ordinance but doesn’t support it.  He says local laws won’t work and there needs to be a federal law for background checks at gun shows and for private sales, but that a federal law is impossible in the current Congress.

Why not start at the local level, then?  It certainly can’t hurt and may even gain some momentum, but he continues:

I cannot support this ordinance, however, because I think it is likely to provoke opposition from gun show participants without making it meaningfully harder for felons to get guns … It also has the potential to alienate an important partner in solving this problem: organizers of gun shows.

Organizers of gun shows and most gun show participants will never be allies in restricting access to guns, so I’m not that worried about alienating them.  They are a small minority.

There are many reasons for supporting this ordinance.  Here are mine:

1) If the ordinance prevents just one homicide or suicide, it’s worth it.

2) Although it may be more symbolic than having any sweeping impact on gun sales, symbols are important.  They speak to the values we hold dear in our community.  I remember a decade ago when the council passed a resolution opposing the Iraq War.  The resolution didn’t end the war but it did show where we (and many other communities) stood, morally. That’s important.

3) It will give Gary Marbut conniptions.

The proposed ordinance makes me proud of my city and (most) of my city council.




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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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Paul Marshall
Paul Marshall

“They speak to the values we hold dear in our community. I remember a decade ago when the council passed a resolution opposing the Iraq War. The resolution didn’t end the war but it did show where we (and many other communities) stood, morally. That’s important.” There’s something wrong with this formulation … you are saying that empty gestures in a fake democracy really do matter after all? I sort of doubt it. It’s a layered problem. Public opinion does not matter, but even if it did, it is so easily managed by symbols and agitprop that it’s of no… Read more »

Paul Marshall
Paul Marshall

Damn Swede could you ease up on the Google? If you look for something, it takes you there! That way, you don’t have to think, your specialty.


I imagine that if this ordinance was enacted, that the promoters of the next gun show would only need about a 15 minute audience with a Judge and the ordinance would be null and void.

Missoula politicians obviously have a lack of real issues to tackle.


Pete have you ever heard of the Supremacy Clause? Federal gun laws trump local law, and it’s perfectly legal for me to sell you a firearm, without any paperwork, or restrictions.


Montana Code Annotated § 45-8-351(1) provides that:
Except as provided in subsection (2), a county, city, town, consolidated local government, or other local government unit may not prohibit, register, tax, license, or regulate the purchase, sale or other transfer (including delay in purchase, sale, or other transfer), ownership, possession, transportation, use, or unconcealed carrying of any weapon, including a rifle, shotgun, handgun, or concealed handgun.

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