Sheriffs’ CQ

Dear MSSA Friends,

I have revised and updated the MSSA Sheriffs Candidate Questionnaire.  It is now posted at:

MSSA does NOT have the resources to deliver this CQ to local candidates or evaluate the results.  YOU will need to do that for your county, and figure out how to distribute the results of your evaluation(s) – endorsements, grades, etc.

I strongly urge that candidates be sent this CQ by a local group, rather than by one or more separate individuals.  If you have an ZYZ County Gun Club, you might want to ask them to offer the CQ to candidates.  If there’s no active gun-related group in your county, you may wish to form one, or invite some other established and interested group to sponsor the effort.

It should only be necessary to email the link above to local sheriff candidates, with a polite cover letter asking the candidates to complete the CQ and return it to you.  Such candidates may provide an email address to the local elections office when they file for office.  Or, if they have a campaign Website, it may contain an email address.

Once you have evaluation results from returned CQs, feel free to utilize and distribute your evaluation results locally however you wish.  A favored candidate would probably like to receive a letter of endorsement that he or she could use in campaign activities.  Social media may be a good place to distribute results.

Please remember that if you spend any money on behalf of or opposed to any candidate(s), there are strict and convoluted laws rules about that, rules enforced by the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices.  So, before you spend any money to publicize the results of your evaluation (such as printing posters, printing and doing physical mailings, etc.), be sure to learn about and comply with whatever campaign laws and rules apply.

I believe (but I’m not sure – check with CoPP) that whatever individuals do as individuals, alone and without consulting with a candidate, are unregulated Freedom of Speech.  So, for example, suppose some volunteer in your group formatted an 8 1/2″ X 11″ poster in support of a candidate (volunteer – no money spent) and made that file available to others (no money spent), and then INDIVIDUALS paid to have some copies of that file printed (no group or pooled money), without discussing this with any candidates involved (no “coordination”), then this would be a First Amendment exercise and unregulated.  HOWEVER, I’m no authority on this so be sure to check with CoPP about the impact before spending any money for an election.

Election of good sheriff candidates is VERY important.  So, I hope some of you will follow up on this in every Montana county.  Do feel free to share this email with folks you may know in other Montana counties.

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

Mental health and “gun violence”

Dear MSSA Friends,

All the talking heads are frothing over the Florida school shooting.  All this rabid attention only inspires copycat acts.

Of course school shootings and mass murder are terrible.  But, let’s ask some intelligent questions about what’s going on.

Many talking heads bring up various suggestions about mental health, from more taxpayer funding, to wider screening, to better record keeping and sharing, to using mental health evaluations to strip people of their civil rights.  So, what’s the deal with mental health and “gun violence”?  (I put “gun violence” in quotes because the issue is really about violence against people, by any method.  One of the largest mass murders in US history was done in a New York City nightclub with a quart of gasoline.)

Well, I have explored the intersection of mental health and gun violence.  I have written about that intersection and posted that Online.  Please review my analysis at:

There are important points in this analysis you need to be able to express to friends, elected officials, and in letters to the editor.

Why do most of these incidents happen in schools?  Well, duhhh!  “Gun free zones.”  I put that in quotes because these places are NEVER gun free.  They are only gun free for the law abiding victims.  But “gun free zones” are low-hanging fruit full of ripe, defenseless victims for a madman planning yet another copycat killing spree.

To cure this societal defect, MSSA proposed the Montana School Safety Act in the last session of the Montana Legislature, House Bill 385.  HB 385 would have allowed trained and qualified school employees to be armed at work, to protect themselves and our precious children and grandchildren.  See the bill copy at:

HB 385 didn’t pass.  Opponents said it’s just too dangerous to have guns in schools.  Leave defense of our children to the professionals, they said.  Oh, but keep the fire extinguishers in the buildings, they said, because the staff of a school with a beginning fire can’t wait for professional firefighters.  Yeah, right.

How bad can it get?  How many children could a madman shoot in the target-rich environment of a school?  Well, I tested that.  Read about and see videos of my test at:

It could be very bad – much worse than the recent shooting in Florida.

So, what’s the solution?  It certainly won’t prevent drunk driving to take cars away from sober people.  And, it won’t inhibit madmen to make it more difficult for law abiding people to purchase or own firearms.  That’s obvious.

One solution is to get rid of gun free zones – all of them.  They’re dangerous places and magnets for violent madmen.  When one of these incidents happens, what’s the first thing people on scene do?  They call for police.  Why call police?  It’s not because of the nifty clothes police wear, and not because of the fancy cars they drive, but because police have guns they can use to shoot the perpetrator.  The victims are calling for guns.  Why shouldn’t the intended victims have guns so they can shoot the perpetrator themselves rather than wait fatal minutes for police to arrive?

It seems that this problem of mass murder needs to be examined through the lens of sociology, rather than of law or psychology.  More gun control laws have not worked anywhere.  Calls for more or better mental health are likely to only obscure important aspects of the problem, and postpone workable solutions.

Enough rant.

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

S. 2206 – release wilderness study areas

Dear MSSA Friends,

Montana’s Senator Daines has a bill coming up for committee hearing, S. 2206, to release for general Forest Service management five different areas that were designated as “wilderness study areas” about 40 years ago.  About 35 years ago, the Forest Service declared that these areas were not suitable for wilderness designation.
Pasted below is the text of MSSA’s letter of support to Daines in re S. 2206.  If you agree with me, you should email messages of support, especially from clubs and organizations, to Senator Daines, ASAP.
Here’s my letter to Senator Daines:
February 1, 2018
Senator Steve Daines
218 E. Front St., Suite 103
Missoula, Montana 59802
Dear Senator Daines,
The Montana Shooting Sports Association supports S. 2206.  We believe that moving the included wilderness study areas back into standard Forest Service management will benefit Montana hunters, but especially hunters who are no longer young and fit but who still wish to hunt.
When we were younger, we could hike in five miles, shoot an elk, and with a struggle, pack it out.  Many of us can no longer do that, because of age or infirmity.  We are effectively excluded from the hunt because we cannot use motorized methods to get within a mile or so of the hunting opportunity.
These wilderness study areas are classic examples of public lands from which those who are not unusually fit are effectively excluded.  We hope that having these areas returned to standard Forest Service management and multiple use will once again allow effective public access for all of the public, and for all hunters.
Sincerely yours,
Gary Marbut

Bump fire stocks – why you should care

Dear MSSA Friends,

One or more bills have been introduced in Congress to outlaw “bump fire” stocks, like the one(s) allegedly used in the Las Vegas massacre.

Why should you care?

First, I’ll agree with many of you that bump fire stocks are stupid.  They are usually inaccurate and just waste ammo.  As my friend Stephen says, they’re a good way to turn money into noise.  They have little practical utility.

But, that’s not the issue here.  The issue here is yet another assault on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  The people control crowd see banning these devices as low-hanging political fruit in the emotionally charged aftermath of Las Vegas.  They have zero intent to limit their ratcheting away of the RKBA with just banning bump fire stocks.  That’s just what they think they can get away with right now.

Another such incident and they’ll be after the device de jour.  What will be next?  Standard-capacity magazines, semi-auto rifles, red-dot sights, “cop-killer bullets” (all rifle ammo), banning private firearm sales without government registration/permission?  The possible list is extensive.  The people controllers already have their wish lists of future restrictions made.  The bills to accomplish these are already written, just waiting for an inflammatory incident to launch them.

In the broader context, a ban on bump fire stocks is just another attack on individual liberty.  Why does anyone “need” a car that will go faster than 65 MPH.  Why does anyone “need” to be able to send uncensored emails or make uncensored Online posts?  Why does anyone really “need” the privacy of their persons, papers, or homes, if they’re not criminals?  Why does anyone “need” to own his or her own property or live outside an urban apartment?  This list is endless too, and all or these are on the chopping block designed by those who want us all subservient to a tyrannous government.

So, where do we draw the line?

Here and now.  Hard and fast.  With bump fire stocks (even if you and I may think they’re dumb.)  This is the time to rise up and just say NO.  By that I mean ABSOLUTELY NO!

It doesn’t matter if some pro-gun group cuts a deal to throw bump-fire stocks under the bus, in exchange for leniency by our would-be masters, or in exchange for some other favor.  The message to Congress is still ABSOLUTELY NO!

Contact all three of Montana’s congressional delegation today, Senator Tester, Senator Daines, and Congressman Gianforte.  Tell them NO inroads on the RKBA, zero, none.  Tell them we are all watching closely.

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

Gun Group Endorses Gianforte


Gun Group Endorses Gianforte for Congress
“Enthusiastically recommended”
May 11, 2017 – for immediate release

MISSOULA – The Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) announced its
endorsement today of Republican Greg Gianforte in his bid for Montana’s
lone seat in the U.S. House. MSSA is the primary political advocate for
gun owners in Montana.

MSSA President Gary Marbut commented, “Greg is clearly a gun guy and
will be an important champion for our rights and issues before
Congress. His chief opponent, Quist, is as they say in cattle country
‘all hat and no cows.’ Quist is a puppet to his anti-gun party and
wants to register everyone’s guns. MSSA acknowledges the good
philosophy of Libertarian candidate Wicks, but is frustrated that
Libertarian candidates never win and only operate as spoilers,
unfortunately sometimes sucking off just enough votes to insure the
anti-gun candidate wins. MSSA enthusiastically recommends Gianforte to
Montana gun owners.”

MSSA has published a critique of Quist’s would-be gun ad at:

Marbut noted that although Quist seeks to come across as a good old
country boy, the media reports that he has not purchased a Montana
hunting license in the last 15 years. Further, a search of records
maintained by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks
indicates that Quist has never graduated from a Hunter Education class
in Montana, a typical youth rite of passage for Montana gun owners.

“Quist’s amateur attempt to come across as a typical Montana gun owner
is a joke,” Marbut said. “In his wannabe gun ad he violates every basic
principle of safe gun handling, safety rules real Montana gun owners
learn when they’re 12 years old or younger. It’s easy for any
experienced gun owner to see through this flubbed sales attempt.”

A special election for Montana’s only seat in the U.S. House will occur
on May 25th. County election offices have already mailed absentee
ballots. The winner of this Special Election will fill the seat vacated
by Ryan Zinke who has become the Secretary of Interior in the Trump

– 30 –

Contact: Gary Marbut;, 549-1252

One more shot at Restaurant Carry

Dear MSSA Friends,

The Senate and House have rejected the Governor’s gutting amendments to MSSA’s Restaurant Carry bill, HB 494.  It now goes back to Governor Bullock for his reconsideration in the form in which it originally landed on his desk.

HB 494 would allow a person with a CWP to exercise that CWP in an establishment that may have a liquor license but for which the main business is food.  It leaves in place an existing law making it illegal to carry concealed when intoxicated.

Please contact Governor Bullock (“Steve Bullock” <; or 444-3111) immediately and ask him to sign HB 494 (or allow it to become law without his signature).  Ask all of your friends and fellow gun club members to contact him too.

Remember, be polite and brief.

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

SJ 11 passes final House vote – done deal

Dear MSSA Friends,

As expected, MSSA’s Senate Joint Resolution 11 (SJ 11) passed the House Third Reading today by a vote of 58-42, the same as the Second Reading Vote yesterday.  It’s now a done deal.

This was basically a party-line vote.  All those who voted against SJ 11 on both Second and Third Reading in the House are Democrats, EXCEPT for Rep. Jeff Essman, Republican from Billings and also the Chairman of the Montana Republican Party.  Said differently, ALL House Republicans supported SJ 11, except for Rep. Essman (even those Representatives sometimes accused of being RINOs), and ALL Democrats opposed it.

This only confirms what I said recently about Montana Democrats driving their party into irrelevance in Montana with their lock-step, obedient, anti-gun performance.  It also makes a person wonder what on Earth is going on with Rep. Essman, the ostensible leader of the Montana Republican Party.  Is he attempting to demonstrate his leadership of Republicans?

I wish to thank several critical people for the success of SJ 11.  Sen. Mark Blasdel (R-Kalispell) was kind and sympathetic enough to provide the original bill draft request for SJ 11.  Thanks Mark.  Attorney and legislative drafter Julianne Burkhardt was patient and helpful as I massaged SJ 11 into final shape.  Thanks Julianne.  Sen. Keith Regier (R-Kalispell, Chairman of Senate Judiciary) rose to the call and did a great job when I asked him to be the primary Sponsor of SJ 11.  Thanks Keith!  Rep. Matt Regier (R-Kalispell, son of Keith) did a fine job of carrying SJ 11 in the House.  Thanks Matt.

Thanks also to the members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees for supporting SJ 11, and to those legislators who supported SJ 11 with voice and votes in committee and on the floor of the Senate and House.

Finally, thanks to those of you in the MSSA orbit who messaged legislators with requests to support SJ 11.

The NRA did not support SJ 11 (they did not oppose either).  I think this was because of the Not Invented Here (by the NRA) syndrome, but mostly because getting very far ahead of the gun rights curve is just not in the NRA’s comfort zone, a sometimes surprisingly narrow zone.  It should be noted that the NRA did support our Restaurant Carry and Range Funding bills (both within the NRA comfort zone).

We’ll need to wait and see what role SJ 11 may play in the future of the Right to Keep or Bear Arms in Montana, and in the US.  I only hope that it won’t first be argued in some dog of a legal case where a court has political or contextual reason to dismiss SJ 11 and its principles, and this important opinion of the Montana Legislature, as irrelevant.

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

SJ 11 passes House Second Reading

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s Senate Joint Resolution 11 (SJ 11) passed the House Second Reading today (4/21) by a vote of 58-42.  It is scheduled to advance to Third Reading tomorrow, when I expect this vote to hold.

Assuming it will pass Third Reading tomorrow, SJ 11 will then be a done deal.  It has already passed the Senate, and, because it’s a joint resolution, it does NOT go to Governor Bullock (which is exactly why I crafted it as a resolution).

You may remember that SJ 11 defines a phrase in the Montana Constitution that has never before had an authoritative definition.  That is the phrase by which our Right to Keep or Bear Arms is secured when the Constitution says that this cherished right shall not be “called in question.”

What does “called in question” mean?  Nobody knows for sure, at least not in a strict legal sense.  That’s why SJ 11.  SJ 11 gets out in front of future legal decisions about this with a very strong definition and a high bar, and coming from the Montana Legislature for authority.

Twenty, 50, or 100 years from now, SJ 11 has the potential to be seen by a historical look back as the most significant and effective item ever gotten through the Legislature by MSSA.  Heck, it could even catch a political wave nationally as our original Montana Firearms Freedom Act did.  It also has the possibility of having no effect at all.  We’ll see.

At least, it will add one more to the 67 pro-gun measures that MSSA has gotten through the Legislature and into Montana law, not counting the many measures that MSSA has gotten through the Legislature only to have them vetoed by an anti-gun governor.

If you wish to read SJ 11, go to:

I’ve also written a fulsome explanation of the features of SJ 11, which explanation I introduced into the public record as testimony at the public hearings in Senate and House.  I did this so that this explanation will be present if the courts seek to dig into the “legislative history” and “legislative intent” of the measure in any future litigation.  You may read this explanation, if you wish, at:

So the good news is that we got at least one significant pro-gun measure through this session (assuming it passes House Third Reading tomorrow, as expected) notwithstanding veto-happy, anti-gun Governor Bullock.

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

Restaurant Carry – amendatory veto

Dear MSSA Friends,

Governor Bullock has gutted our Restaurant Carry bill, HB 494, with an “amendatory veto.”

In his veto message, Governor Bullock asserts he is a “strong advocate for the second amendment rights of the citizens of Montana.”  Right.

Rather than an outright veto, I imagine Governor Bullock used the amendatory veto so he can claim that the majority of the Senate and House passed a bad bill, and with his brilliant amendment he was able to correct it.  That, in turn, will support his claim that his peculiar brand of  “common sense” is superior to the rights we citizens have reserved to ourselves from government interference.

We see by this that the Democrats of Montana have not learned that when you find yourself trapped in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.  Montana Democrats have not figured out that they continue to drive themselves into irrelevance with their weasel-worded and disingenuous opposition to principles that are important to Montana.

The number of Democrats in the Montana Legislature continues to shrink as they continue to cling to their fringy, anti-gun ideas.  They lost every major office in Montana last November except for narrowly hanging onto the Governor’s office with a smear campaign funded by copious money from out-of-state.  Thanks in part to Bullock, his weasley excuses, and his anti-gun attitude, when he leaves office in three years Democrats will be at the lowest ebb ever in Montana history.

So, for the long run, we should thank Governor Bullock.  Thanks for so reliably carrying the consistently anti-gun Democrat flag.  Thanks for your key part in ushering the Democrats into total irrelevance in Montana.

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