Action – HB 226 on Second Reading tomorrow (Wednesday)

Dear MSSA Friends,

HB 226 is scheduled for Second Reading debate and vote on the House
floor tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6.  HB 226 is MSSA’s bill to exempt
nonprofit shooting ranges from property taxes.

You need to get a message to your Representative in the House asking him
or her to please support HB 226.  Here are some talking points:

1.  Shooting range clubs are community service organizations that are
valuable to the communities they serve.  Such ranges provide a safe and
suitable place for Montana’s many gun owners to practice with, test,
sight in, and use their firearms, thereby decreasing potential conflicts
on other private and public lands.

2.  Many range-owning clubs have sought federal 501(C) status in order
to avoid property taxes and plow the money saved back into range
operation and improvement.  The purpose of HB 226 is to create an
opportunity for such clubs to get the same result under state law,
rather than driving them into the clutches of the IRS for that benefit.

3.  HB 226 has multiple conditions included to proof it against abuse,
including that a qualifying club must be a nonprofit corporation under
Montana law, must have officers, directors, and a registered agent, and

4.  The Fiscal Note for HB 226 shows zero fiscal impact.  Those who
researched and wrote the Fiscal Note cannot identify any cost from HB
226 that may be shifted to other taxpayers.

Feel free to use any or all of these talking points, but try to express
them in your own words when you message your Representative.

Thanks loads for your help.

Best wishes,

Wrap-up for last week in the Legislature

Dear MSSA Friends,

Let me give you a wrap-up of last week in the Legislature.

The public hearing was held on HB 226, MSSA’s bill to exempt nonprofit shooting ranges from property tax.  The Montana Department of Revenue opposed HB 226 because it allows a nonprofit entity to get court costs and fees from DoR in a lawsuit challenging a DoR denial of the proposed tax exemption.

The House Taxation Committee approved HB 226 after amending it to exclude a residence at a shooting range.  Committee members were concerned that the measure could be abused by somebody with a mansion setting up a target, calling that a shooting range, and demanding a property tax exemption.  This amendment degrades HB 226 just a bit, only about 5% I think, so it’s still a good bill.  For ranges that have a caretaker residence on property, that residence is often a mobile home, which is assessed and taxed as personal property rather than real estate.

HB 226 will now go to the floor of the House for Second Reading, debate, and a vote.  I’ll get another email out when it’s scheduled for Second Reading and ask you to message House members.

HB 325 and HB 357 had their public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.  HB 325 would roll back local government authority to regulate firearms under Montana’s “preemption law” at 45-8-351, in order to curb abuse of that statute by Missoula and other communities, and to prevent a patchwork of local gun control laws across Montana.  HB 357 is the identical, companion measure that is a referendum to go to a vote of the people should Governor Bullock veto HB 325.

The usual suspects opposed HB 325, including the Montana League of Cities and Towns, the Montana Association of Counties, the Montana School Boards Association, and ex NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s captive Mom’s Demand Action and Mayors for Gun Control.

The House Judiciary Committee has not taken action on HB 325 and HB 357 yet (as of Monday morning), but I predict the Committee will approve the bills.  Keep messages going to Committing members asking for support of HB 325 and HB 357.

HB 322 is sponsored by Rep. John Fuller and is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on This coming Thursday, 2/7.  HB 322 would remove the requirement that a CWP applicant provide a Social Security Number as a part of the application.  Law enforcement have told me that for completing background checks they prefer to use full name and date of birth, and that SSNs are not particularly useful, especially since there is so much fraud in use of SSNs by illegal aliens and others.  Plus, we are advised by all knowledgeable advisers, government and private, to NOT use SSNs for identification to reduce exposure to identity theft.  Please get messages to members of the House Judiciary Committee asking them to support HB 322.

HB 145 and HB 155 have passed the House, gone to the Senate, and have been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  No public hearings scheduled yet.

SB 95, a gun control bill, remains tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee and probably will remain so, although we’ll continue to watch it.

Thanks loads for your help.

Best wishes,

--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  Author, Gun Laws of Montana

Preemption cure bill introduced

Dear MSSA Friends,

Rep. Matt Regier has introduced HB 325, the bill to cure the abuse of Montana’s “preemption” law by some local governments such as Missoula and Helena.  The plan is that this bill will be assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and scheduled for a public hearing in that Committee on Friday (2/1) morning at 9 AM.

The plan is also that there will be two measures, this one and a companion and identical referendum.  This is so that if we get HB 325 to Governor Bullock’s desk and he vetoes it, then the same thing as a referendum will go on the next General Election ballot for a vote of the people.  The referendum is being prepared and may also get introduced in time to be also scheduled for its public hearing before House Judiciary on Friday.

Folks, this is a very important bill, if we can get it done.  Other communities are watching Missoula and its prohibition of unregistered private firearm sales to see if Missoula can get away with that.  That issue has now gone to the Montana Supreme Court.  I predict that the Montana Supreme Court will figure out some imaginative way to allow Missoula to enforce whatever gun control it wants, despite our reservation of the right to keep or bear arms in the Montana Constitution.

So, the real solution to this policy debate is the Legislature, and therefore HB 325 – for the Legislature to withdraw from local governments any power that they might stretch all out of shape to invoke local gun control across Montana.

To prevent this creeping gun control by local governments in Montana, we need your full support in getting HB 325 passed, along with its to-be-introduced, companion referendum.

Please show up on Friday if you can for the public hearing on HB 325.  If you can come, be sure to review:

If you can’t be there, get messages to the House Judiciary Committee members asking them to support HB 325.

Thanks loads for your help.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana

Bill hearings coming this week

Dear MSSA Friends,

Don’t forget the public hearing on MSSA’s bill to exempt nonprofit shooting ranges from property taxes, before the House Taxation Committee, at 9 AM on Wednesday, January 30th.

It is now time to get messages to the House Tax Committee asking members to please support HB 226.  If you’re involved with a local club that operates a shooting range and can come to Helena to speak in favor of HB 226, that will be great.  Please review:

Remember, the goal is to allow nonprofit shooting range clubs to not pay property taxes because of a state law, rather than forcing them to go to the IRS seeking some 501(C) status to achieve this same result.  I still need letters from shooting range clubs supporting HB 226.

I expect introduction today (Monday) of another of MSSA’s bills, our bill to roll back local government authority to impose a patchwork of local gun control laws across Montana.  This is being done to rein in Missoula, which is trying to prohibit private firearm transfers without a gun-registering federal background check.  It is also being done because cities like Helena have abused the authority to prohibit guns in “parks” by identifying large parcels of open space where two-legged and four-legged predators roam as parks.

This history of abuse is just too much.  It’s time for the Legislature to withdraw the legislative-granted authority that local governments seem determined to abuse.

We hope this bill, once introduced, will be assigned a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, February 1st, which is also Capitol Day and Freedom Day at the Montana Legislature.  This should be a great excuse for you to come to Helena.

I’ll get another alert out as soon as this bill is introduced, gets a bill number, and it is confirmed as scheduled for a public hearing on 2/1.

We’re still waiting for introduction of the Montana School Safety Act, to allow armed school staff.  More about that ASAP.

Best wishes,

--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  Author, Gun Laws of Montana

Three bills to act on

Dear MSSA Friends,

Okay, the firearms-related bills begin, with public hearings coming up next week (starting 1/21).

On Monday, 1/21, the House Judiciary Committee will hear two bills that MSSA SUPPORTS.

House Bill 145, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, would remove the requirement from law that a person with a concealed weapon permit must notify authorities if changing county of residence.  We have asked Zolnikov to accept friendly amendments to accomplish two more things with this bill:  1) To remove SSN from the CWP application form; and 2) to further clarify that sheriffs may not charge more to process a CWP application than the $50 already listed in the law.

House Bill 155, sponsored by Rep. Casey Knudsen, would prevent local governments from creating a patchwork of laws across Montana to regulate knives.

Please send a note to the House Judiciary Committee in SUPPORT of these two bills, no later than Noon on Monday.

On Wednesday, 1/23, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear a bill that MSSA OPPOSES.   

Senate Bill 95, sponsored by Sen. Malek, would create a bunch of ways a person could lose the right to keep or bear arms, possibly for life, under Montana law.  SB 95 is allegedly to help fight domestic violence, but is riddled with potential for abuse and unintended consequences.

Please send a note to the Senate Judiciary Committee OPPOSING SB 95, no later than Noon on Wednesday.

If you have questions about how to do this, please review the material I provided at:

Thanks loads for your help with these three bills.  Stay tuned for more.

Best wishes,

--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  Author, Gun Laws of Montana

Kathleen Williams proposes a $200 million tax on Montana gun owners

Dear MSSA Friends,
On August 29th, candidate for Congress Kathleen Williams told a Kalispell audience that she wants to levy a $200 million tax on Montana gun owners.
Really!  Although that’s not the way she put it. She said that “high capacity magazines” (over 10 rounds of ammunition) need to be treated legally the same as “sawed off shotguns” and “machine guns.”
These items, you may know, require an application to the BATFE, a nine-month wait, and a $200 tax for each item registered, in order to legally possess them.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that there are 132 million high capacity magazines in private ownership in the US.  Given the high density of firearms in Montana, there must be at least one million of the magazines Williams would target in Montana, probably many more.
One million magazines in Montana and a $200 tax for each one by Williams is where Williams’ $200 million tax on Montana gun owners comes from.
Wait, you say.  Williams is so ignorant about gun laws that she didn’t know that her proposal to legally reclassify hi-cap magazines as NFA items would levy $200 million in taxes on Montana gun owners.  Well, if she gets her way and you don’t pay the tax on your magazines, some judge will inform you that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  Not for you and me, and not for Williams.
If Williams should get elected and get her way about the tax on Montana gun owners, one of the people who would have to pay that tax is Greg Gianforte, our sitting congressman who Williams is trying to unseat.  I don’t know how many hi-cap magazines Gianforte has, but I know he has some.
It is because I know Gianforte to be a very pro-gun guy, and because of Williams idea for a $200 million tax on Montana gun owners, that I urge you to tell all your friends to support Gianforte in the election that is going on right now.

MSSA 2018 General Election endorsements and grades

Dear MSSA Friends,

I have just posted MSSA’s 2018 endorsements and grades for the General
Election in November, for candidates for federal office and for the
Montana Legislature.  They are posted at:

You might guess that MSSA has invested scores of hours of research about
candidates to deliver to you our best recommendation about candidates
for various offices.  I hope you take advantage of that effort.

Please recirculate this information and link as widely as possible.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association

CoPP sues MSSA?

Dear MSSA Friends,

The Missoula Current (a liberal Missoula Website) reports that the Commissioner of Political Practices (CoPP) has filed a lawsuit against MSSA in state District Court in Helena.  Allegedly, this lawsuit is an enforcement action over claimed campaign irregularities from 2014.
If this report is correct (unconfirmed at this point), CoPP is asking the Court to fine MSSA $28,000 because one staple was missing from documents MSSA properly filed with CoPP in 2014.  Yes, $28,000 because of one missing staple!
I have posted more detail about this at:
So, if you see more about this in the media, now you know the Rest of the Story, as Paul Harvey used to say.
If you read the linked material, you will see that CoPP has been weaponized by anti-gun, liberal political elements to try to emasculate and sideline MSSA, your highly successful political warrior asserting the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
Stay tuned for more.
Best wishes,

Gun Safety for Kids – News Release

Group encourages widespread gun safety message for kids
(for immediate release, March 29, 2018)
MISSOULA – The “Be Safe” gun safety program for kids is the most widespread and readily available gun safety program for children in Montana.  Provided by the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA), Be Safe has been the primary program for children’s gun safety in Montana for over 20 years.  Be Safe is approved by the Montana Legislature, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and law enforcement as a good way to deliver an effective gun safety message to children.
Designed for children in first through third grades, Be Safe is a short story about how one responsible but imaginary Montana family deals with gun safety issues in the home environment.  Typically, a presenter will read the story to children in a class at school, in church groups, or in other youth groups.
The presenter will then hand out copies of the material to children and ask children to take it home and have parents read the story to the child and siblings one more time before the child goes to bed.  This reinforces the message, involves siblings, and offers parents a carefully designed gun safety strategy for application in the home.  MSSA has distributed over 100,000 copies of the Be Safe material to Montana schools, gun clubs, and parents since the inception of the program.
MSSA has deliberately withheld any copyright protection for the Be Safe material, so that any interested person may reproduce the Be Safe material.  That material and supporting documents are publicly available at:
MSSA President Gary Marbut commented, “For all those concerned about firearms and child safety, we encourage the widest possible application of Be Safe in Montana.  We have no idea how many children’s lives have been saved over the years because of Be Safe.  It must be some, maybe many.  But, we can do better.  That’s why we encourage all Montana people to ramp up delivery of Be Safe to children in schools and any other possible venues.”
Marbut notes that enhancing Be Safe delivery to Montana children is especially timely with all the recent national concern about child safety and firearms.  Be Safe is designed to reach children of an age when they are very receptive to a gun safety message.  “It’s better to get some firearm safety information to kids when they are receptive and before they get into an older, know-it-all stage of development.”
“Be Safe is free and available to everyone,” Marbut continued, “and anyone who is honestly concerned about child safety will help responsible gun owners spread the word.”
Be Safe includes suggested rules about gun safety that parents can apply in their home.  Marbut says that even though Montana is a “gun rich environment,” Montana only has 48% of the national average of “kid/gun misadventures” per 100,000 population, probably because of Montana’s gun-friendly culture.  Despite this good record, Marbut maintains, Montana can do even better with a wider delivery of Be Safe.  Marbut defines a “kid/gun misadventure” as an incident in which someone 14 years or younger injures themselves or another with a firearm.
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Information:  Gary Marbut, 549-1252; mssa AT mtssa DOT org