Several dozen Montana politicians, including Secretary of State Brad Johnson, have adopted an unconventional take on the Second Amendment case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court: They’ve threatened secession. D.C. v. Heller, the first substantive Second Amendment case the Court has heard in nearly 70 years, could definitively settle whether the right to bear arms is an individual right or a collective right.
In a joint resolution, the Montana politicians argue that when Washington approved the state constitution, including a clause granting “any person” the right to bear arms, upon the Treasure State’s entry into the Union in 1889, the federal government recognized that clause as consistent with the Second Amendment. If the Court comes down on the side of a collective right, they argue, it would breach the compact for statehood between Montana and the federal government.
“Some speak of a ‘living constitution,’ the meaning of which may evolve and change over time,” supporters of the resolution explain on their website. “However, the concept of a ‘living contract,’ one to be disregarded or revised at the whim of one party thereto, is unknown.” Therefore, they argue, “A collective rights holding in Heller would not only open the Pandora’s box of unilaterally morphing contracts, it would also poise Montana to claim appropriate and historically entrenched remedies for contract violation.” Said remedies include opting out of its breached compact with the federal government—in other words, seceding from the Union.