Firearms Owners Against Crime

Institute for Legal, Legislative and Educational Action

Criminal Complaint Filed in Montana Gun Free School Zone Case :: 09/15/2023

A preliminary appearance has been scheduled for Gabriel Cowan Metcalf on the charge of possessing a firearm in violation of the federal Gun Free School Zone Act in Billings, Montana.  The Gun Free School Zone Act is a controversial law that had been found to be unconstitutional in 1994 and then was slightly altered. It has not been considered by the Supreme Court since 1994, long before the Heller, McDonald, and Bruen decisions. The preliminary appearance will be on Monday, 28 August, at 9 AM. The criminal complaint has been posted.

According to the criminal complaint, Billings Police had received “multiple calls” about Metcalf over a few weeks. Billings police officers had several contacts with Gabriel Cowan Metcalf but did not find any reason to arrest him. They tried to negotiate with him to curtail his walking in his front yard and around the neighborhood with a firearm, because they received several complaints of him being in the area with a firearm.

Gabriel Cowan Metcalf called the FBI to complain of Billings Police harassing him. ATF agents called Metcalf’s Mother on the phone number they had. She asked the agents to listen to Metcalf’s entire story; then, she gave a number for them to call Metcalf. The ATF agents called Metcalf and explained they were federal officers. Metcalf told them his story, including how he has researched the law pertaining to firearms. He has not had a happy experience with Billings Police Officers. Metcalf is 49 years old. Metcalf complained about not getting what he considered a proper investigation of his complaints. Much of Metcalf’s complaints involved his perceived threats from a neighbor, David Carpenter. Billings Police Officers have an “officer caution” about David Carpenter. To increase officer safety, they would conduct a phone interview with David Carpenter instead of an in-person interview.

When asked, Gabriel Metcalf said he had walked on the sidewalk with a firearm but had not entered any private property but his own. He said he would survey the area because he was gang stalked and he was protecting his mother and himself.  He would specifically look for vehicles that he believed were associated with the gang stalkers. Metcalf told of several disputes he has had with David Carpenter and called David Carpenter “crazy.”

Metcalf carried a single-shot Rossi 20 gauge break-action shotgun. He said he preferred to carry a handgun. He does not seem to have the funds to purchase a handgun himself.  His mother has a store. His mother refuses to purchase a handgun for him to protect the property.

Metcalf told the ATF the Gun Free School Zone Act was unconstitutional. He said he does not have mental problems and does not use drugs.

The criminal complaint makes mention of the fact the Rossi shotgun is imported into the United States, and thus has “traveled in Interstate Commerce” to be possessed in Montana.

Montana passed a statute to protect legal firearms owners from prosecution under the Gun Free School Zone Act, in 1995.  Here is Montana Code Annotated 45-8-360. 

Establishment of individual licensure.

In consideration that the right to keep and bear arms is protected and reserved to the people in Article II, section 12, of the Montana constitution, a person who has not been convicted of a violent, felony crime and who is lawfully able to own or to possess a firearm under the Montana constitution is considered to be individually licensed and verified by the state of Montana within the meaning of the provisions regarding individual licensure and verification in the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act.

Gabriel Metcalf has been assigned a federal public defender,  Russell Alan Hart.

Contacts in the federal system say federal public defenders are a cut above ordinary public defenders.

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