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Legal Battle: Federal v State

*Disclaimer: None of the 55 Defense staff or writers for this blog are attorneys, paralegals or Perry Mason. None of the following should be taken as legal advise and is only a basis for the reader to begin their own research.*



When looking into the law, there are some important things to know about the words, the intent and the conflicts between laws. This article will focus on the conflicts between State and Federal law.


The case (and it's decision) we will be discussing today is US v. Metcalf. Gabriel Metcalf was arrested and convicted of carrying a firearm in a school zone, enforceable under 18 USC 922. The defendant attempted to have the case dismissed based on MCA 45-8-360.


The short of both laws are that it is a federal crime to carry a firearm within 1000 feet of a school, while the Montana law asserts the school building is the restricted area. The federal law does say that the individual state can exempt parties "licensed under state law." Montana Code Annotated 45-8-360 asserts that any person not convicted of a violent felony and that is legal to own guns is automatically licensed to carry in a school zone (though not in a school building).


So while this state law might normally lead to a dismissal, in this case, the judge ruled that the state law does not meet the proper criteria to exempt Metcalf. So while the behavior is in question by the federal government, the actions are upheld by state law.


This case may be appealed, and another court may hear arguments on the state versus the federal law, but at this time, the defendant has been convicted. This case is quite interesting and brings up some questions on what kind of caution we should be exercising when looking at state laws, but not the federal law. While this case seems clear based on the state exemptions, the conviction still happened.


Please read the case decision. It is interesting to ponder. It can be found here: https://casetext.com/case/united-states-v-metcalf-35

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