Congressional and Legislative candidate grades and endorsements

(for immediate release – April 30, 2014)

MSSA issues legislative endorsements for Primary Election
and Grades for Congressional Candidates

MISSOULA – The Montana Shooting Sports Association today announced its endorsement of 23 legislative candidates for the June, 2014, Primary Election.  Endorsements have been made only in races with contested primaries, and only in those races where a candidate clearly superior for gun owners and hunters can be identified.

MSSA has recommended candidates in contested races where information on issues significant to gun owners issues is available.  This usually includes voting records for incumbents, and returned candidate surveys for candidates for open seats or candidates challenging incumbents.

MSSA is the primary political advocate for gun owners and hunters in Montana, having gotten 64 pro-gun and pro-hunting measures through the Montana Legislature in the past 30 years.

Legislative Candidates

The candidates endorsed for the June, 2014 Primary Election include:

Montana Senate
Mark Blasdel – Senate District 04
Kris Hansen – Senate District 14
Tonya Shellnutt – Senate District 24
Cary Smith – Senate District 27
Joanne Blyton – Senate District 29
Jedediah Hinkle – Senate District 32
Marissa Stockton – Senate District 42
Scott Boulanger – Senate District 43

Montana House
Ronalee Skees – House District 07
Mike Hebert – House District 11
Ann Morren – House district 18
Ryan Osmundson – House District 30
Sarah Laszloffy – House District 53
Jeff Essmann – House District 54
Seth Berglee – House District 58
Debra Lamm – House District 60
Mike More – House District 65
Matthew Monforton – House District 69
Bob Wagner – House District 71
Mike Miller – House District 80
Theresa Manzella – House District 85
Edward Greef – House District 88
Dan Salomon – House District 93


Congressional Candidates

Note:  The grades below are derived from everything MSSA knows about the candidates.  MSSA FAR prefers to have a candidate’s voting record, than a response to MSSA’s Candidate Questionnaire.  It’s too easy for a candidate to espouse one position on a Candidate Questionnaire and then vote differently.  MSSA believes voting records are the most reliable measure of a candidate’s affinity for issues of interest to MSSA, its members, and Montana gun owners.  Some candidates have no voting record and also declined to return MSSA’s Candidate Questionnaire.  MSSA scores these candidates with a “?” and views them as hiding anti-gun sentiments.

Only candidates with in a contested Primary Election are graded for the Primary.

U.S. Senate
Democrat Primary
Name                      Grade    Basis
Dirk Adams               D        Candidate questionnaire
John Bohlinger  C-       Voting record
John Walsh               ?        No information

Republican Primary
Susan Cundiff   ?        No information
Steve Daines             A-       Candidate questionnaire
Champ Edmunds   A        Voting record – 100% + CQ

U.S. House of Representatives
Name                      Grade    Basis
Democrat Primary
John Driscoll            ?        No information
John Lewis               ?        No information

Republican Primary
Elsie Arntzen            A+       Voting record – 100% + CQ
Matt Rosendale  A        Voting record – 100% + CQ
Corey Stapelton A        Voting record – 100% + CQ
Drew Turiano             B        Candidate questionnaire
Ryan Zinke               B        Voting record – 85%

All endorsed candidates were sent a copy of the endorsement letter attached below.

 – 30 –

Information: contact MSSA president Gary Marbut at 549-1252 or at

(Legislative candidates’ endorsement letter, printed on MSSA letterhead)

April 18, 2014

City, State Zip

Dear Name,

I am pleased to inform you that you are endorsed by the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) in your bid to be nominated as the legislative candidate for (District) in the June, 2014 Primary Election.

MSSA is the primary organization asserting the right to keep and bear arms and the rights and prerogatives of hunters in Montana.  You will be aware that we routinely obtain passage of pro-gun and pro-hunting legislation by the Legislature.

You have been endorsed by MSSA because you are clearly the best candidate in your Primary Election contest to represent gun owners and hunters.  We highly recommend you to the voters of your election district in the Primary Election.  We think the right to keep and bear arms and hunting are important.  Those voters in Montana who agree with us about this important right should know that you will certainly be the best of the Primary Election candidates in your party to represent our shared convictions.

We believe it is important to elect people to public office in Montana who believe in the rights reserved to the people by our constitutions, state and federal, and especially our right to keep and bear arms, and who believe in our cherished heritage and culture of hunting game animals.

We will review this race separately for potential endorsements for the November General Election.

We wish you the best for your Primary Election challenge.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Marbut

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

Firearm safety/self defense class – May 18th – Missoula

Gun Safety for Personal Protection and
Concealed Weapon Permits Course
Sunday, May 18th, 2014

MISSOULA – A course entitled “Gun Safety for Personal Protection and Concealed Weapon Permits” will be hosted in Missoula by the Montana Shooting Sports Association on Sunday, May 18th, instructed by Gary Marbut.

This one-day course will focus on safe handling, storage and use of handguns suitable for personal protection, selecting a personal firearm, issues of personal protection, allowable use of lethal force, concealed weapon permits, kids and gun safety, shooting skills and more, and will include both classroom and shooting range sessions.

Graduates will receive a credential qualifying them to apply for a Montana concealed weapon permit.   The class will begin at 9:00 AM, and finish about 4:00 PM.

Class size is limited to the first 20 registrants. Pre-registration is required.  Tuition is $100 per student.  Students should be 16 years or older (exceptions possible upon request – call).

For further information or to register, reply to this email or call 549-1252.

To register by email, reply to this email and provide:

U.S. Mail or residence address, including City, State, and Zip
Contact phone number

NOTE:  These classes fill quickly, so reply soon to this email if you want in on this class.  If you can’t or don’t make it into this class, you will be notified of subsequent classes by subsequent emails.  I’ll conduct however many classes it takes to clear my any backlog.  Watch your email for further announcements.

Expect an email confirmation of your class registration.  If you don’t get an email confirmation, call me.

Further class information and instructions will be supplied by return email once you register.

Please forward this email to interested others.

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

WND story about federal Bozeman raid

Dear MSSA Friends,

A fresh story about the federal raid on the Bozeman brass recycler is posted at:

My deadline for the Montana Attorney General to respond to my request for investigation of this incident is today at Noon.  Nothing yet.  Stay tuned for more.

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

Smokeless powder supply

Dear MSSA Friends,

The clip below is from today’s edition of Stephen Wenger’s daily DUF Digest, a free email with LOTS of good information.  If you’re an infojunkie like me, you should subscribe.  There’s also a lot of good information posted on Stephen’s Website.  You may subscribe to the daily DUF digest at:

The second largest small arms propellant manufacturer in the world remains evacuated as a French hazardous materials company slowly continues to wet down and clear the site, hoping to avoid triggering a secondary blast or fire. An exclusion area extending 350 meters from the perimeter of the factory affecting 31 homes has been mandated until Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 PM, and may be extended. A local news site says it impossible to know when the clean-up will be finished, as each step of the clean-up has to be verified before they can advance… One hopeful estimate suggests that the company’s rifle propellant line will be out of commission for just 90 days, though few industry sources seem to believe that this is a realistic figure…

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

About lead for bullets in the US

Dear MSSA Friends,

I’ve seen a lot of concern expressed because the last lead smelter in the US was closed because of the pressure from EPA regulations.

It’s true that this smelter in Missouri was the last PRIMATY lead smelter in the US.  Primary means a smelter that processes lead from a mine rich in lead ore, as this smelter was processing ore from the traditionally rich lead mines of Missouri, which have been a significant source of lead in the US since not long after the Louisiana Purchase.

However, today’s bullet manufacturers report that they buy their lead almost exclusively from SECONDARY lead smelters in the US.  There are a number of these secondary smelters that produce lead by recycling products which use lead, mostly automotive batteries.

However again, these secondary lead smelters are also coming under increased EPA regulatory pressure, including one in southern California which is curtailing or shutting down operations at least temporarily to address cleanup issues.

Will these secondary smelters survive and be able to continue meeting the demands of bullet manufacturers?  Maybe; maybe not.  Meanwhile, more lead is now being imported from Mexico, Canada, and other places (they say it’s now a global economic world and a global marketplace).

Bottom line:  Closure of the last primary lead smelter in the US should not curtail bullet production, but continued pressure on secondary smelters could very well have that effect.  And, you can bet that there are those who would love to use government power to end component suppliers for ammunition altogether.  Add to that the ongoing effort to use environmental concerns to totally prohibit use of lead in all ammunition, as has been done with lead shot in places like California.

So, there is reason to be concerned about the overall outlook for lead for ammunition, but there is not reason to panic only because the last primary lead smelter in the US has closed.

Best wishes,

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

A bit of frustration here

Dear MSSA Friends,

The Governor of Idaho just signed into law a bill prohibiting state and local employees from enforcing any new federal gun laws, such as magazine limitations or semi-auto bans.

I’ve probably had 40 emails from Montana people saying, “This new is Idaho law great.  We should do this here.”

MSSA got this bill through the Montana Legislature in 2013 as HB 302, but Governor Bullock vetoed it on 03/28/2013.  The Governor wouldn’t have vetoed this bill if enough Montanans had contacted him insisting he sign it, especially including all the clueless people telling me, “Gee, we should do this in Montana,” people who missed that we already DID do this in Montana already, but that our considerable effort failed because those people were napping or inactive.

Am I frustrated?  Absolutely.

Just maybe, if we get this bill passed by the Legislature again in the 2015 session, these people will wake up long enough to notice and rally their friends to contact the Governor insisting he sign the danged bill.


Okay, I feel a little better now.

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

Advisory – videorecording police

Dear MSSA Friends,

I am seeing more reports of people being arrested and charged with various crimes (e.g., wiretapping, obstruction, etc.) for videorecording police in public places, reports from states other than Montana.

So, I sent an email to a contact at the Montana Department of Justice and asked what advice MT DoJ gives to police officers and agencies about video recording (or audio recording, I suppose) police in public places in Montana.  Here is the reply I received:

Here is a little bit on how we train law enforcement on the issue you asked about in your email.  The Montana Law Enforcement Academy trains on this issue quite a bit.  Students are told very sternly that citizens have the right to photograph and video tape officers and to not interfere with these types of acts.  The exception is if the person videotaping is in such close proximately to the event that it would impede the officers efforts or create a hazard or risk to the situation.  Even in those instance officers are trained to explain to the person why this is impeding or interfering and ask them to move to another location so as to not create a hazard.

So just to clarify, the act of videoing an incident alone does not mean a person would be arrested. To rise to a level of obstruction of justice, the person videoing must be actually interfering with the investigation or arrest. So videoing is not on illegal on its face or even a gray area.

Interesting!  Good to know.

Generally, the courts reviewing these situations in other states have held that when police are doing their public job in public places they have no expectation of privacy.

Best wishes,

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

Report – MSSA Annual Meeting

Dear MSSA Friends,

At the Annual Meeting yesterday in Helena, MSSA re-elected All existing officers and three members of the Board of Directors whose terms were expiring.  In addition, a vacant position on the MSSA Board was filled with the election of Keith VanSetten to the Board.  Keith is from Choteau and is Sheriff of Teton County.  We welcome Keith to the Board.

MSSA also finalized its legislative agenda for the 2015 Montana Legislative Session.  In order of priority, here are the issues the MSSA Board and members selected for the MSSA legislative agenda for next session:

1.  Encourage the manufacture of ammunition components in Montana.  This will be MSSA’s flagship bill for the session.

2.  Prohibit enforcement of any new federal gun control laws by state and local government employees.

3.  Safe Travel to Work.  Allow for “Safe Travel to Work” by preventing employers from firing employees who have a firearm locked in the employee’s private vehicle in the employer’s parking lot.

4.  Prohibited Places.  Address the non sequitur of the “prohibited places” at 45-8-328 where anyone may carry a firearm openly but CWP-holders may not exercise their permits.

5.  Campus Carry.  Allow campus carry by determining that campus authorities have no power to suspend, amend or abolish the Montana Constitution and the right to keep and bear arms that the people have secured there to prevent interference by governmental entities.

6.  Sheriffs First.  Insure cooperation from federal law enforcement officers by requiring that they obtain written permission from the elected county sheriff before conducting an arrest, search or seizure in Montana.

7.  Sound Suppressors for Hunting.  Remove the prohibition for use of suppressors for hunting regulated game in Montana.

8.  Permitless carry.  Make the law inside cities the same as it has been outside cities for 23 years by allowing concealed carry inside cities without a permit.

9.  Guns at School.  Clarify that school boards have full discretion over discipline applied to students who deliberately or inadvertently bring a firearm to school.

10.  Bankruptcy and Firearms.  Allow up to $5,000 of firearms, archery equipment and ammunition that a person has owned for a year or more to be exempt from claims under bankruptcy.

11.  Home Guard.  Expand upon existing laws establishing the Montana Home Guard to specify organization, mission, duties, responsibilities and control.

As MSSA ramps up towards the 2015 Legislative Session, MSSA needs to expand its membership and also increase the numbers of people we reach on this email list.  Please join MSSA if you’re not already a member.  Go to:

Please also forward this email to other Montanans and encourage them to send an email to MSSA asking to be put on the MSSA email list.

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