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

Restaurant Carry, Contact Governor

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s Restaurant Carry bill, HB 494, has been passed by the Legislature and sent to Governor Bullock.

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

An open letter to U.S. Senator Jon Tester about U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

Dear Senator Tester,

In 2006 the United States Senate unanimously confirmed Judge Neil
Gorsuch to a seat on the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, without
dissent or criticism.

Please inform Montana what Judge Gorsuch has done since 2006 to cause
you to be unwilling to announce support for his confirmation now. What
decisions has he written since 2006 that are unacceptable to you? What
breaches of professional ethics has he committed since 2006 that cause
you to withhold support?

Please tell Montana what has changed about Judge Gorsuch since 2006. If
you cannot articulate and document any significant problems, then Judge
Gorsuch deserves the same support from you now that the Senate gave him
in 2006, support you should announce to Montana rather than playing
political games. Reassure Montana that you work for us, and not for
Chuck Schumer of New York.


Time to Contact Legislators – SB99 & HB494

Dear MSSA Friends,

It’s time to get messages to legislators in support of SB 99 and HB 494.

SB 99 has a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 22.  SB 99 is MSSA’s bill to prevent state and local employees from enforcing any new (after 1/1/17) federal laws or regulations restricting firearms, magazines, or ammunition (such as the Obama lead ban for hunting on public lands done the last day before Obama left office).

SB 99 is entirely consistent with Printz v. US in which the Supreme Court considered the initial Brady Law (in 1994) requirement that sheriffs must conduct the background checks on gun buyers.  Sheriff Jay Printz of Ravalli County, Montana, filed suit in federal court arguing that the feds did not elect or pay him, and that they couldn’t force him to implement federal law.  The Supreme Court agreed with Sheriff Printz and held that Congress could not commandeer the resources of state and local governments.

SB 99 is also consistent with and a mere extension of Montana law at 45-8-351 which prohibits local governments from enforcing gun laws not approved by the Legislature.

Police entities have testified against this bill in past sessions saying that police officers have taken an oath to uphold all laws, state and federal, and cannot be asked to breach their oath.  This is false.  Police take no such oath.  They DO take an oath to uphold the U.S. and Montana Constitutions, which of course includes the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments.

Please send messages to House Judiciary Committee members asking them to support SB 99.

HB 494 has a public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee also on Wednesday, March 22nd.  HB 494 is MSSA’s Restaurant Carry bill that would allow people with CWPs to use a CWP in a restaurant which also has a license to serve alcohol, but where the primary business is food.  HB 494 will leave in place an existing law making it a crime to be intoxicated and in possession of a firearm.  The existing prohibition on Restaurant Carry is just nonsensical.  There is zero history of people with CWPs in Montana abusing that prerogative or getting in trouble.

Please send a message to Senate Judiciary Committee members asking them to support HB 494.

I hope to see some of you in Helena for the public hearings on these bills.  House Judiciary meets at 8AM and Senate Judiciary meets at 9AM.  I’ve asked the Chairman of House Judiciary to schedule SB 99 first item on the HJC agenda, and I’ve asked the Chairman of Senate Judiciary to schedule HB 494 as the last item on the SJC agenda.  If they do that, it should allow people attending to be present for BOTH public hearings (in different rooms of the Capitol).  NOTE:  Expect a boatload of Demanding Moms to show up to oppose both bills.

If you have any question about the legislative process, see:

If you have any question about testifying before a legislative committee, see:


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

The last public hearings on MSSA bills, 3/22

Dear MSSA Friends,

The last two public hearings have been scheduled for MSSA bills on Wednesday, March 22nd.

HB 494, Restaurant Carry, will have a public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which convenes at 9AM.

SB 99, to prevent local enforcement of new federal gun laws, will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee, which meets at 8AM.

I hope to get the House Judiciary to schedule SB 99 as its first bill, and the Senate Judiciary Committee to schedule HB 494 as its last bill of the morning.  This should provide time for interested persons to attend both hearings.

WARNING.  Demanding Moms (“Moms Demand Action”, funded by NYC billionaire Michael Bloomberg) are already rallying their sympathizers to attend these hearings in numbers.  If you want these bills to pass, you need to make plans to show up and help me support them.  I know that’s difficult, but freedom isn’t free.

I’ll alert you again next weekend when it’s time to send messages to committee members urging support for these to bills (just on the off chance you can’t attend in person).

BTW, SJ 11, to define “shall not be called in question”, was approved by the House Judiciary Committee,  Now it will go to the floor of the House for debate and vote on Second Reading (soon, but unknown exactly when).  It IS time for you to contact your Representative (and any other Representatives local to your area) and ask him or her to support SJ 11.

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

Hearing, SJ 11; status report all bills

Dear MSSA Friends,

There will be a public hearing for Senate Joint Resolution 11 before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 9th, beginning at 8AM.  SJ 11 is to establish the first-ever authoritative definition of the critical phrase in the Montana Constitution, “shall not be called in question.”

Please contact House Judiciary Committee members and ask for their support for SJ 11, or show up to speak in favor of it.  If you have any questions about SJ 11, please see:

Here is the current status of all the bills that have been introduced at MSSA request, or that MSSA is supporting:

Bills MSSA has had introduced this session are:

1)  HB 494.  Passed House; pending in Senate.  Restaurant Carry.  To allow those with concealed weapon permits to use their permits in restaurants where food is the chief item for sale. Sponsor, Rep. Seth Berglee

2)  SB 99.  Passed Senate; pending in House.  No local enforcement of new federal gun laws.  To prohibit state and local employees from enforcing any new federal gun laws or regulations.  Sponsor, Sen. Cary Smith

3)  HB 385.  Failed on House Second Reading.  School safety.  To allow full-time public school employees to exercise a concealed weapon permit at school as long as the employee’s firearm is genuinely concealed and the employee responsible for the security of the firearm.  Sponsor, Rep. Seth Berglee

4)  SJ 11.  House Judiciary Committee public hearing 3/9, 8AM.  Defining “shall not be called in question.”  To provide a legislative definition for this never-before-defined phrase used in the Montana Constitution to secure the RKBA.  Sponsor Sen. Keith Regier

5)  HB 262.  Vetoed by Governor.  Permitless carry.  To allow concealed carry without permit inside the limits of a city or town if the person is eligible to possess a handgun. Sponsor:  Rep. Bill Harris

6)  HB 151.  In HFG Committee.  Secure shooting range funding.  To prevent FWP from misusing funds appropriated by the Legislature for the SRDP.  Sponsor:  Rep. Nancy Ballance

Bills MSSA is supporting

7)  HB 246.  Vetoed by Governor.  Post Office Carry.  Sponsor:  Rep. Randy Brohdel

8)  HB 273.  Passed House; pending in Senate.  Immigrant CWP.  Sponsor:  Rep. Barry Usher

9)  HB 251.  Passed House; pending in Senate.  CWP weapons cleanup.  Rep. Kirk Wagoner

10)  SB 236.  Pending in SFG Committee.  Right to hunt update.  Sen. Jennifer Fielder

11)  LC2322.  Exempt shooting ranges from property tax.  Rep. Adam Hertz

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

About Rob Quist – candidate for Congress

From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, January 22, 2017.

Gun ownership

But [Quist] believes that efforts to increase public safety are being derailed by gun manufacturers, questioning the need to own assault rifles.

“They’re only meant to kill people,” he said. “So maybe there should be some legislation to register those types of things. You register your car to drive, why not register guns. I know that’s a touchy subject for a lot of people …”

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

Open lettter to Montana GOP – Zinke replacement

March 2, 2017

Montana Republican State Committee
Helena, Montana

Dear Committee Member,

The Montana Shooting Sports Association is the primary political advocate for Montana gun owners.  We watch politics closely in Montana.  In the last 30 years MSSA has gotten 67 pro-gun bills through the Montana Legislature and enacted into law (we’ve had a few more vetoed by various governors).

We wish to offer you our recommendation for a GOP candidate to fill the seat recently vacated by Congressman Zinke.

The good news is that there are a number of very good candidates to choose from.  The less helpful news is that we cannot recommend just one best candidate.  However, we can help you narrow the field by assuring you that there are four contenders who we believe would be very solid advocates for our cherished right to keep and bear arms – four known candidates, any of whom who would be great from our perspective.

Those four are, in alphabetical order:  Greg Gianforte, Carl Glimm, Ken Miller, and Ed Walker.

Glimm, Miller, and Walker have all served in the Legislature and all three of them have a 100% voting record on firearms issues over multiple sessions of vote records we keep.  Those 100% voting records are pure gold.  We know Gianforte well, know his personal commitment to the right to keep and bear arms, and have a great candidate questionnaire from him from his run for Governor.

So, we recommend all four of those candidates to you without reservation.

Other currently known contenders for this nomination either have less stellar or no records of legislative votes, have no candidate questionnaire on file with us, or are otherwise unknown to us.

We hope this is helpful to you in making this important selection.

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