Legislative update, February 21, 2017

Dear MSSA Friends,

Here’s the current status of MSSA bills and bills MSSA is supporting, and some requested action:

LC2322 – Exempt shooting ranges from property taxes
In finish drafting; to be introduced soon.

HB 151 – Protect shooting range funding (from FWP predation)
Waiting for action by House Fish and Game Committee.
!       Send messages urging support to Committee members

*HB 246 – Post Office Carry
Transmitted to Governor on 2/20

*HB 251 – Remove some items from concealed weapons list
Passed House, referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

HB 262 – Permitless Carry
Transmitted to Governor on 2/20
!       Send messages urging support to Governor

*HB 273 – Legal immigrant CWPs
Passed House, referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

HB 385 – Montana School Safety Act
Waiting action by House Judiciary Committee (likely 2/22)
!       Send messages to support to Committee members

HB 494 – Restaurant Carry
Passed by House Judiciary Committee
Due on the House floor for Second Reading (likely 2/22)
!       Send messages to any Representatives urging support

SB 99 – No local enforcement of new federal firearm or magazine bans
(Note: Amended by Senate Judiciary to add ammunition and
remove specific enforcement against violators.)
Passed by Senate on Second reading – 30-20

*SB 236 – Strengthen right to hunt, fish, and trap in the Montana Constitution
Waiting action by Senate Fish and Game Committee.

SJ 11 – Define “shall not be called in question”
Passed by Senate, transmitted to House.

* Not “MSSA bills” but supported by MSSA
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com

Legislative update, 02/20/17

Dear MSSA Friends,

I spoke in favor of MSSA’s Restaurant Carry bill, HB 494, before the House Judiciary Committee this morning (Monday, 02/20/17).  The bad news is that I was the only proponent.  The good news is that there were zero opponents.

I told the story of the Luby’s Massacre in Texas, where madman George Hennard drove his pickup through the front window of Luby’s Restaurant and then shot and wounded 44 people, killing 24.  Dr. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp was there having dinner with her mother and father.  She had left her handgun outside in her car because Texas law (then) made it a felony for Dr. Hupp to bring her firearm into the restaurant.  Both Dr. Hupp’s mother and father died that day because Texas law prohibited Dr. Hopp from bring her handgun into the restaurant.  She has said since that she’d much rather have faced felony criminal charges under Texas law than lose both parents.  For more information about the Luby’s Massacre, see:

Today the Senate discussed SJR 11 (to define “shall not be called in question) on Second Reading and passed it by 31-18.  It will advance to Third Reading tomorrow (Tuesday, 2/21).  If it passes there (expected, and by the same vote), it will move on to the House.

Keep the messages going to the Governor on Permitless Carry (HB 262) and Post Office Carry (HB 246).

Best wishes,
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com

Public hearing – Restaurant Carry

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s Restaurant Carry bill, HB 494, will have its public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee at 8 AM Monday, 2/20, in Room 137 of the Capitol.

Under current law, a person with a concealed weapon permit is not allowed to exercise that permit in a restaurant if the restaurant has a liquor license.  HB 494 would remove that restriction for places where the major business is not alcohol.

HB 494 amends current law with this added language:  “It is not an offense under (Prohibited Places statute – GM) to carry a concealed weapon while patronizing a restaurant where alcoholic beverages are not the chief item of sale.”

It just makes no sense if you have a CWP and are having dinner with your family at Applebees and drinking iced tea that you cannot defend your family just because Applebees has a liquor license.

HB 494 leaves in place 45-8-327, which makes it illegal to be under the influence of an intoxicating substance and also be in possession of a firearm, so the existence of that law should help sell HB 494 to legislators.

Please send messages to members of the committee asking for support of HB 494.  As always, keep the message short and be polite.  If you can, come speak to the committee at the public hearing.

Best wishes,
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com

Permitless and P.O. Carry to Gov.

Dear MSSA Friends,

Both Permitless Carry (HB 262) and Post Office Carry (HB 246) have been “enrolled” (as having passed Senate and House) and are on their way to the Governor’s Office.

HB 262 would eliminate the requirement that lawful gun owners must get a government permit to put on a coat if wearing a gun in 6/10ths of 1% of Montana, inside city limits (open carry is allowed/legal throughout Montana, including inside cities, and permitless carry has been allowed/legal in Montana outside cities since 1991).

HB 246 would prevent state and local police from enforcing federal gun bans at Post Offices, including in P.O. parking lots.  How many times have you gone to a Post Office to check mail or get stamps, not realizing that having a firearm in your vehicle violates federal law.  In Printz v. US, the US Supreme Court held that states have no obligation to enforce federal laws, or that Congress may not commandeer the resources of state and local governments to effectuate federal programs.

Please contact Governor Bullock about both of these.  You can try sending an email to bullock@stevebullock.com, or you can send a message via the governor’s Website at:

I recommend you do both.  Be polite and be very brief.  Begin your message with “Please sign HB xx.”

About HB 262, Permitless Carry, please make the point that HB 262 will NOT affect the permit issuance process in ANY way.  In his 2015 veto of this bill, Governor Bullock claimed his veto was because the bill would do away with the permit issuance process.  Not true, and we need to rebut this claim vigorously.  Also, you might ask Bullock, “Why treat Montana’s urban dwellers as second class citizens, and as untrustworthy?  Why not allow city dwellers the freedom their rural neighbors have enjoyed and not abused for a generation?”

Do it!

Thanks,
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com

Restaurant Carry introduced as HB 494

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s Restaurant Carry bill has been introduced as HB 494 by Rep. Seth Berglee.

Under current law, a person with a concealed weapon permit is not allowed to exercise that permit in a restaurant if the restaurant has a liquor license.  HB 494 would remove that restriction for places where the major business is not alcohol.

HB 494 will amend current law with this added language:  “It is not an offense under (Prohibited Places statute – GM) to carry a concealed weapon while patronizing a restaurant where alcoholic beverages are not the chief item of sale.”

HB 494 will soon be assigned to the House Judiciary Committee (probably today) and then will quickly be scheduled for a public hearing.  Be ready to act on HB 494 and I’ll let you know ASAP when a public hearing is scheduled.

Explanation for urgency:  There is a deadline for most bills (ones not about money) in the Legislature, called “transmittal.”  This a mid-session point when all House bills must be transmitted to the Senate, and Senate bills to the House, or they are dead.  That transmittal deadline is coming up on March 1.  It will take HB 494 a minimum of one day for a public hearing and action before committee, a minimum of a day to appear before the House on Second Reading, and another day for Third Reading.  These are absolute minimums.  Committee work and getting to and through Second Reading will probably take longer.  It is because of the looming transmittal deadline that HB 494 will need to move quickly.  Stay tuned on this.

Best wishes,
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com

Montana RKBA week starts March 6th – celebrate!

Dear MSSA Friends,

The first full week of March, the 6th through the 12th, is set up by law in Montana as the official celebration of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  This is courtesy of a law MSSA got passed in 1991.

You are encouraged to get with others and plan some sort of local celebration for this week.

Here is what the law says:

“1-1-224. Observance of right to keep and bear arms. The week beginning the first Monday in March is an official week of observance to commemorate Montana’s valued heritage of the right of each person to keep and bear arms in the defense of his home, person, or property or in aid of civil power. During this week, all Montanans are urged to reflect on their right to keep and bear arms and to celebrate this right in lawful ways.”

Best wishes,
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com

Legislative Preference List 021617

Dear MSSA Friends,

We are now in the peak of activity of the legislative session.  With all the bills moving, it can be difficult to keep track of them.  There is an easy solution to that problem.

The solution is to go to the Legislature’s Website, set up an account (takes about a minute), and then set up a “Preference List” (will take another three or four minutes).  Set the account to send you email notices for any pending action on a bill on your Preference list.  Done.

Then you will get email notices about pending bill actions, and it will be simple to check on bills’ progress – just go to your Preference List.

Okay, here’s how you do that.  Go to the front page of the Legislature’s Website, at:

Click on “Bills” and then on “2017 LAWS” on the left side of the page.  Near the bottom of the page that will take you to, on the left, click on the line that says “Establish a Preference Account”.  Just follow the instructions from there.  You’ll need to give an account name (whatever you can remember – could be “MSSA123” or your name) and a password (again, whatever you can remember).

Here is a list of the MSSA-related bills I’m tracking in my Preference List:

LC1177 (not introduced yet) – Restaurant Carry
LC2322 (not introduced yet) – Exempt shooting ranges from property tax payments
HB 151 – Secure shooting range funding
HB 246 – Post Office Carry
HB 251 – Remove certain items from conceal carry laws
HB 262 – Permitless Carry
HB 273 – Legal immigrant CWPs
HB 385 – School Safety Act
SB 99 – Prohibit enforcement of new federal gun laws by Montana public employees
SB 236 – Upgrade constitutional Right to Hunt (and fish and trap)
SJ 11 – Define “shall not be called in question”

To establish your Preference List for these bills, you will only need to enter the bill type (e.g., HB or SB), and the bill number.

Establishing a Preference list via the Legislature’s Website will simplify following these bills and staying informed about their progress.

Best wishes,
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com

Report from Helena, 02/15/17

Dear MSSA Friends,

Well, not exactly.  I’m home now.

Tuesday morning at 8 AM I attended a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee to support MSSA’s School Safety Act, HB 385, to allow for armed teachers.  Garrett Bacon of Helena also came to support the bill (thanks Garrett), but he was the only other proponent.  There were about 30 Moms Demand Action there.  Each side was allowed 20 minutes.  One of the MDA bill opponents took up over 10 minutes of that time with unpersuasive testimony.  Others of the 30 were frustrated when their side ran out of time and they were only allowed to state their name for the record.  I must admit that it is frustrating when some clueless dolt burns most or all of your side’s time with wasted talk, but I admit to not being so disturbed when it happened to the other side.  The committee has not yet taken action on the bill, but I think it likely the Committee will approve the bill.  It’s not too late to send messages to Committee members asking them to support HB 385.  Do it.

Tuesday afternoon, the Senate passed Permitless Carry (HB 262) and Post Office Carry (HB 246) on Second Reading.  Both of those were passed by the Senate today on Third Reading.  Since neither was amended by the Senate, both will now go to the Governor.  In a different email to you (maybe tomorrow) I’ll offer information and suggestions for messages to the Governor about these two bills.  Neither one passed with a veto-proof majority, which would be 34 votes in the Senate and 67 in the House.

Later on Tuesday afternoon I attended a public hearing before the House Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Committee to support HB 151, a bill to prevent FWP from using for other purposes the money the Legislature appropriates for the Shooting Range Development Program.  There were several opponents, including FWP and their reliable sidekick the National Wildlife Federation.  I told how FWP had diverted the SRDP funding from two previous legislative sessions.  I think the Committee was sympathetic because legislators don’t like executive branch agencies and personnel ignoring legislative intent.  Please contact the House FWP Committee and ask that committee members support HB 151.

BTW, HB 151 and HB 262 (Permitless Carry) were MSSA bills (bills for which we overtly asked for introduction) last session.  They were not on the final MSSA legislative agenda this session, but we couldn’t hardly not support them when sponsors reintroduced them this session since they were introduced last session at MSSA’s request.

This morning at 9 AM I attended a public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of SB 99 and SJR 11.  Garrett Bacon was there again in support (thanks again Garrett), but nobody else showed up to support these two MSSA bills.

Senate Joint Resolution 11 is the measure to provide the first authoritative definition for the critical phrase in the Montana Constitution “shall not be called in question.”  Surprisingly, there were no opponents.  I guess the Moms Demand Action wore themselves out on Tuesday.

SB 99 is the bill to prohibit state and local public employees (cops) from enforcing any new federal restrictions on firearms or magazines.  SB 99 was opposed by county attorneys and the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, although the opposition was not as spirited as it has sometimes been in the past.

NEW BILL.  A bill has been introduced for a referendum to upgrade the right to hunt, fish, and trap in the Montana Constitution, SB 236, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Fielder.  It will have a public hearing tomorrow (2/16) before the Senate Fish and Game Committee.  I emailed a letter of support for SB 236 from MSSA.  Please send messages to the Committee in support of SB 236.

Every change to the Montana Constitution must be voted on by the people.  To put SB 236 on the ballot requires 100 votes combined out of the 150 possible votes in the Senate and House.  That’s a pretty heavy lift, so your ongoing support for SB 236 will be needed.

That’s enough for now.

Best wishes,
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com

Time to saddle up!

Dear MSSA Friends,

It’s time to ramp up your support of MSSA’s political effort on your behalf.  We will have three bills up for their first committee public hearing in Helena this coming week, one on Tuesday and two on Wednesday.

At a bare bones minimum I need you to send electronic or phone messages to every member of the correct committee for each bill.  At a maximum I need you to come to Helena and stand up in front of the committee in the public hearing and tell committee members that you support the bill, and why.

If you can travel to the Capitol (yes, I know it’s a pain – time, money, effort, weather), here’s the guidance you need about speaking before a committee:

If you simply cannot attend, here is information about the process, and about how you can send messages to legislators.

You can send a message to all members of a committee via the legislative Website – just one click to send after having filled out the information.  KEEP YOUR MESSAGE SHORT!  Legislators are incredibly challenged for time and unlikely to read your message if its more than about two sentences.  A sample message might be:  “Please support SB 99.  It’s perfectly legal and consistent with Montana culture.”

BILLS UP FOR HEARING:

On Tuesday, HB 385, the School Safety Act, sponsored by Rep. Seth Berglee (R-Joliet), will have its public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.  HJC meets at 8 AM in Capitol Room 137.  HB 385 will allow full-time school staff to exercise a Montana CWP at school IF the firearm is always concealed and IF the CWP-holder always has his or her firearm secured.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will have public hearings on two bills, Senate Bill 99 (SB 11) and Senate Joint Resolution (SJR 11).  SJC meets at 9 AM in Capitol Room 303.

SB 99, No Enforcement of New Federal Gun Laws, is sponsored by Sen. Cary Smith and will prohibit state and local government employees (police) from enforcing any new federal gun control done by law or regulation after 1/1/17. The US Supreme Court held in Printz v. US that Congress could not commandeer the resources of states to administer federal programs.  So, SB 99 is just implementation of that decision and principle.

SJR 11 is sponsored by Sen. Keith Regier and will establish an authoritative definition for the critical phrase that secures our RKBA in the Montana Constitution, “shall not be called in question.”

If you want to know more about what SJR 11 does, I’ve written a careful explanation at:

Please get and stay involved in these bills.  They are done for you, your children, and your grandchildren.

Thanks for your support!

Best wishes,
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com

School Safety Act introduced – HB 385

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s “School Safety Act” has been introduced as HB 385, and will have a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) on Tuesday, 2/14.

HB 385 would allow full-time school employees at a K-12 public school who have a concealed weapon permit to exercise that CWP at school as long as the firearm is always concealed and the employee maintains security for the firearm at all times.  Under HB 385, a school would not be able to interfere with an employee exercising a CWP, and schools would be prevented from spending any money to implement this.

This last provision is important because school spending is not necessary for this program.  And, had this restriction on school spending not been in the bill, school lobbyists would have clamed the need to spend tens of millions on gun safes, extra teacher training, and more, claiming that would take needed money away from actual education, a classic gambit to defeat a bill.

MSSA believes that if teachers and other school staff are capable of being trained sufficiently to be entrusted with our children, they are also capable of being trained to be competent and safe with firearms.  They will be the first responders should there be a life-threatening incident at a school.  It is always better if first responders are equipped properly to do what they must.

No school employee would be required to become and be armed under HB 385, but it would become an acceptable and legal option for any school employee wishing to utilize the opportunity.  HB 385 applies only to public schools.

Please get messages to HJC members in support of HB 385, or show up in the Capitol at 8 AM next Tuesday to speak to members of the HJC.  If you are uncertain how that works, please revisit:

Thanks loads for your support.

Best wishes,
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com