Montana Sued Over Gun Carry Law

Gun group wants eligibility for legal immigrants

Pro-gun rally in Montana
Pro-gun rally in Montana / AP

Montana is being sued in federal court over a provision in their gun carry law that prevents legal resident aliens from obtaining permits.

The suit, filed in federal district court on Monday by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), says the prohibition against permits for legal resident aliens violates the Second Amendment. The group has won suits against similar laws in a number of other states including New Mexico, North Carolina, and Nebraska.

SAF labeled Montana's law discriminatory.

"The courts have repeatedly stated that lawful resident aliens have the same Second Amendment rights as everyone else, and still some states choose to discriminate against them on this point," attorney David Sigale, who is representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement. "It is our hope this unfair and illegal law will be swiftly struck down."

Lenka Knutson, an SAF member, is the main plaintiff in the suit. Knutson, a 34-year-old mother of two, received her permanent resident visa in 2005 and has lived in Whitefish, Montana with her family since 2007. She works as a bank teller supervisor and wants to obtain a gun carry permit but can't because the state only issues them to citizens.

Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder, said the Montana law violates Knutson's civil rights.

"Even non-citizens are afforded protections under our constitution, including the right to keep and bear arms," he said. "It is inconsistent with our tradition of liberty that people who come to our country legally and become productive members of the community shouldn’t have the same personal protection rights as anyone, because criminals do not play favorites, even in Montana."

Gottlieb cited previous cases bolstering his organization’s case.

"Our lawsuit is firmly grounded in the recognition and incorporation of the Second Amendment that came with our Supreme Court victory in McDonald v. City of Chicago. We also believe the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause renders the state law to be unconstitutional."