Montana lawmaker proposes changes in US Constitution


Montana lawmaker proposes changes in US Constitution (1-6-13)


A state representative up in the Flathead is proposing changes to the US Constitution. It's a response to calls for an assault weapons ban and the required registrations of guns.

Republican Jerry O'Neil, of Columbia Falls, says he wants to work to defend the US Constitution. He says the second amendment has been under increasing jeopardy.

"My constituents from House District 3 value it very highly. They would be very unhappy if someone was coming to their door and said ‘Hey give up your guns, we're from the government,'" said O'Neil.

O'Neil is worried about pushes for tighter gun control in the wake of recent shootings. US Senator Dianne Feinstein is planning to submit a bill that would reinstate an assault weapons ban and require registration of firearms. 

O'Neil said the registration rule would be a step in the wrong direction, and while some argue that founding fathers did not have assault weapons in mind when writing the second amendment, O'Neil disagrees.

"According to what I read, or heard, about what the founding fathers did…that's exactly what they had intended when they passed the second amendment. When Jesus said ‘Sell your robe and get a sword he didn't mean get a sword so you can go out and go hunting,'" said O'Neil.

Among O'Neil's proposed changes, the word "among" would be replaced with "between" in Article 1, Section 8 of the constitution, so it would read: "To regulate Commerce with foreign nations and interstate commerce between the several States, and with the Indian Tribes…"

O'Neil says he wants to ensure state sovereignty, and he thinks international treaties may impose upon state rights when it comes to firearms. 

NBC Montana also caught up with Representative Dick Barrett, a democrat in Missoula. Barrett says he would support regulations that would increase the traceability of firearms.

"There's a lot of leakage of firearms that have been legally acquired by people who have passed background checks," said Barrett.

Barrett says that when it comes to firearms regulations, it makes sense to create rules at a federal level.

"If it were possible to sort of hermetically seal off a state and the gun market in a state then there would be a case to be made…Then there would be a case for the state to do whatever regulating is going to be done."

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