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

“Shall not be called in question” – SJ 11

Dear MSSA Friends,

If you want to understand SJ 11, our measure to define “shall not be
called in question,” I have written an explanation and have posted it at:
progunleaders.org/Question/

This explanation will be introduced as testimony concerning SJ 11 in its
public hearing(s), so that it will become a part of the “legislative
record” for SJ 11. This means that it will be available for courts to
look at if trying to determine what the intent for SJ 11 is/was.

If you have any questions about SJ 11, this should answer them. If you
want to know more in depth about this subject, I recommend the Wikipedia
article on strict scrutiny at:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strict_scrutiny

Best wishes,

Two MSSA bills introduced – hearing scheduled

Dear MSSA Friends,

Our measure to define the critical phrase “shall not be called in question” that is used to secure our RKBA in the Montana Constitution has now been introduced as Senate Joint Resolution (SJ 11).  This important measure is now scheduled to have its public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) on Wednesday, February 15th.  You may read the text of SJ 11 at:

SJ 11 is sponsored for MSSA by Sen. Keith Regier (thanks Keith!!).  It is helpful that Sen. Regier is on the SJC and is also Chairman of the SJC.

SB 99 will also have its public hearing before SJC on 2/15.  SB 99 is the MSSA-proposed bill to prohibit state and local officers from enforcing any new (after 1/1/17) federal gun control done by law, regulation, or executive order.  You may read the text of SB 99 at:

SB 99 is sponsored by Sen. Cary Smith (thanks Cary!!).  Sen. Smith serves on MSSA’s Board of Directors.  SB 99 was passed last session but vetoed then by Governor Bullock.

The Senate Judiciary Committee convenes at 9 AM in Room 303 of the Capitol (just on the East side of the Rotunda’s third floor).  Please either come to Helena to speak in favor of these bills, or send electronic messages on 2/13 or 2/14 asking SJC members to support them.

If you are uncertain about how to help or do any of this, please review:

Thanks loads for your help with these important bills.

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

MSSA offers alternative to Missoula

NEWS RELEASE 
(for immediate release – February 2, 2017) 

Gun Group Offers Alternative to City Council 
“Education, Not Regulation” says MSSA 

MISSOULA – The Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) has offered a Resolution to the Missoula City Council to replace its failed ordinance to regulate private firearm transfers.  The Resolution proposed by MSSA relies on education to help make Missoulians safer with firearms, and includes support for education for children through adults. 

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox recently released an Opinion holding that the ordinance passed by the Missoula City Council to regulate private firearm transfers is in conflict with state law and unenforceable.  MSSA believes that in the wake of that Opinion the City council may be searching for something meaningful and legal that it can do to support firearm safety in Missoula. 

“We believe strongly in firearm safety education.” said Gary Marbut, MSSA President.  “Education is clearly the right way for the Council to approach any perceived firearm safety issues in Missoula.  This proposed Resolution offers a package of education options for the Council to embrace, all of which are perfectly legal today.  It will actually move the ball for the Council, and for Missoula.” 

Marbut said he hopes the City Council will take the offered Resolution seriously and get it on the Council’s agenda for consideration. 

The proposed Resolution is available for public review at 
http://progunleaders.org/Missoula_Resolution/ 
The Resolution includes support for Be Safe, and gun safety program for children, Hunter Education provided by the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for youth, firearm safety education now available for adults, and a published Guide to Private Firearm Sales. 

Marbut believes the package of education options in the Resolution would receive broad support from the public. 

 – 30 –
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  http://www.mtssa.org  Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.mtpublish.com

Legislative update 01/31/17

HB 262, Permitless Carry, passed the House on Third Reading by 60-39
HB 246, non-enforcement of Post Office restrictions, passed the House on Third Reading by 60-39
HB 273, CWPs for legal immigrants, passed the House on Second Reading by 100-0
HB 251, remove various items as concealed weapons, passed the House on Second Reading by 67-33

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

Bills advancint

Dear MSSA Friends,
All four bills that had public hearings before the Montana House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday have been passed by the Committee.  They will now advance to the floor of the House for action before the full body on Second Reading.  If you’re not familiar with what this means, please review:
http://progunleaders.org/Legislative%20Process/
These four bills that have moved on to the House floor are:

HB 262 – Permitless Carry (in other states called “Constitutional Carry”) – Rep. Bill Harris. Since 1991, a concealed weapon permit (CWP) has not been required for a law-abiding person to carry a concealed weapon in 99.4% of Montana – outside the limits of cities or towns.  With over two decades of experience that not requiring CWPs for nearly all of Montana has not created any problems, this bill will harmonize the law so a permit will no longer be required for a law abiding person to carry a concealed weapon in the remaining 6/10ths of 1% of Montana, inside cities and towns.  This bill would leave the permitting process in place, so citizens who desire them may still obtain CWPs for travel to other states that recognize Montana CWPs, and for firearm purchases at gun stores under the federal Brady Law.  This change would exclude criminals from applicability – it would still be illegal for criminals to carry concealed weapons.  Another way to explain this is that if a law abiding person were wearing a firearm, this bill would make it legal to put on a coat inside city limits without a government permit to dress for cold or wet weather.  This bill was carried last session by Rep. Harris and passed House and Senate, but was vetoed by Governor Bullock.

http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/billhtml/HB0262.htm

HB 246 – Firearms in Post Offices – Rep. Randy Brodehl.  This bill would prohibit enforcement by state and local officers of federal laws making it a crime to have a firearm in a vehicle in a U.S. Post Office parking lot, or inside a Post Office building.

http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/billhtml/HB0246.htm

HB 273 – CWPs and legal immigrants – Rep. Barry Usher.  Current law requires that only U.S. citizens may apply for a Montana CWP.  This restriction has been stricken by federal courts in other states as a violation of  “equal protection” (of the laws) for legal immigrants, who are deemed to have rights protected by the Constitution.  This bill will cause Montana law to conform to the equal protection requirements of federal courts.

http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/billhtml/HB0273.htm

HB 251 – Exclude various concealed weapons  – Rep. Kirk Wagoner.  This bill would exclude from concealed weapons laws a variety of weapons listed there, including a dirk, dagger, pistol, revolver, slingshot, sword cane, billy, knuckles made of any metal or hard substance, knife having a blade 4 inches long or longer, and razor.  It would leave subject to concealed weapons laws only handguns.  This bill would simplify existing law.

http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/billhtml/HB0251.htm

Please contact your Representative and ask him or her to support all four of these bills.
Thanks,

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

Attorney General Opinion, Missoula Ordinance

Dear MSSA Friends,

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has released the requested Opinion about the enforceability of the Missoula ordinance requiring government background checks for private transfers of firearms.  You can access this AG Op here:

As expected, this AG Opinion declares the Missoula ordinance to be in conflict with controlling state law, and to be unenforceable.

Addressing the Missoula ordinance this way, and putting the wheels in motion for this AG Opinion, was something MSSA initiated over a year ago.  We’re glad this planting finally bore the expected fruit.  This is yet another example of what MSSA does for Montana gun owners.  For more examples, see:

If you are not already an MSSA member, you should really join to be a part of our longstanding success.  MSSA membership information is available at:

Best wishes,


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