Flash – HB 234; SB 143

Dear MSSA Friends,

HB 234, about shooting range funding, has just been approved by the House Appropriations Committee.  The Committee approved amendments I had drafted and rejected hostile amendments.  HB 234 will now go to the House floor for Second Reading.  I’ll let you know when – soon.

SB 143, Campus Carry, will be on the House floor at 1 PM tomorrow, 3/25, for Second Reading.  Please contact your Representative (and any others) and ask him or her to please support SB 143.  Make whatever short argument you wish.  MSSA’s lead argument is that the unelected bureaucrats of the U-system have no power to suspend the Montana Constitution, or the rights we have reserved to ourselves in the Constitution from government intrusion.

Get messages to legislators via the Message Center, 444-4800, or with the Online Message Form at:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp#email

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Update – Northwestern, bills, etc.

Dear MSSA Friends,

I’m just back from three days in Helena.

Monday morning, while awaiting the House Judiciary Committee hearing on our suppressor bill (SB 295), I got a call from and did an interview with a Fox News reporter in NYC who wanted to ask about the illogical fight Northwestern Energy picked with Montana gun owners.  The story that resulted from that interview is at:
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/03/23/montana-utility-lobbies-against-gun-rights-expansion-bill/

Perhaps the most informative line in the story is this one:  "Reached Monday in his Helena office, [NWE lobbyist] Fitzpatrick referred FoxNews.com to a utility spokesman who declined comment on the bill."

Reading between the lines, NWE is now figuring out what a tremendous mistake it made opposing an RKBA bill that doesn’t affect NWE at all.  Before NWE was just circling the wagons over the criticism of its off-mission tinkering.  Now NWE is starting to hitch up the wagons and move them quietly back down the trail, in the dark.  Although NWE’s circle-the-wagons blog post is still up at:
http://www.northwesternenergy.com/news-center/northwestern-blog/nwe-blog-item/nwe-blog/2015/03/14/northwestern-provides-clarity-to-testimony-on-hb-598

I expect it may disappear soon.  NWE has maintained, even after the House Judiciary Committee amended HB 598 to cure even the most paranoid suspicion about effect on non-governmental agencies, "The company and Fitzpatrick said they are still opposed [to HB 598], and would not be intimidated."  LINK

Perhaps NWE’s institutional investors are hearing about this blowup, getting nervous, and calling in.  We’ll see.  Meanwhile, some MSSA folks suggest that all MSSA Friends buy just one share of NWE stock and begin to think about attending the NWE Annual Meeting in April to participate in that Meeting and the election/reelection of candidates for the NWE Board of Directors.  I’ll let you know if we come up with any concrete plan about that.

About HB 598’s possible application to a non-governmental entity (the NWE position), Al Smith, Helena attorney and lobbyist for the Montana Trial Lawyers Association said, "I don’t see any possibility for a private entity to be held liable under this bill, unless the private entity has contracted with a government to perform a governmental function."

At the House Judiciary Committee hearing on SB 295, MSSA’s bill to end the prohibition on suppressors for hunting, opposition came only from the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the lobbyist for Montana game wardens.  FWP’s opposition has become muted. FWP’s only remaining reason for opposition is no longer poaching, dead livestock, or "fair chase," but that suppressors will damage the image of hunting among the non-hunting public.  A member of the Committee asked the FWP opponent if he had any data to support that notion.  He didn’t.  Not very persuasive.  The HJC acted on SB 295 today, approving it.  SB 295 will now go to the House floor for Second Reading.  As soon as it is scheduled, we need to push hard on this.  I’ll let you know.

The hearing on HB 234, to prevent FWP from diverting and misusing the money the Legislature appropriates for the Shooting Range Development Program (SRDP), had its public hearing before the House Appropriations Committee today.  This is a thorny issue.  FWP solicited and received a letter from a US Fish and Wildlife Service employee in Denver ("Denver letter") saying essentially that if the Legislature put this money beyond FWP’s theft, that would be considered a "diversion" of in-state hunter license fee money that would make Montana ineligible to receive about $27 million of federal matching money.  The letter from USFWS said that in order for a state to be eligible for federal funding under the federal Pittman-Robertson Act and Dinagall-Johnson Act (PRDJ), any in-state hunter license monies must be under the "control" and "administration" of the state wildlife agency.

I pointed out that the SRDP is assigned by Montana law to the "control" and "administration" of FWP.  And, I provided a letter from the former administrator of the PRDJ for the USFWS in Washington, D.C., wherein he asserts that the "Denver letter" is just smoke, and is improperly intended to allow FWP to do whatever it wants with any money appropriated by the Legislature, regardless of the wishes of the Legislature.

The House Appropriations Committee is spooked by the threat (even if empty) that the USFWS could deny Montana $27 million in PRDJ federal funding.  In order to quiet these fears among Committee members, I’ve worked with amendments to come to some middle ground, to only allow FWP to divert the SRDP money if there is an "emergency" with FWP, and with the terms of the "emergency" defined.  I’m watching the Committee action now.  It is expected to consider the amendments and act on HB 234 today.  Again, I’ll let you know.

That’s enough for now.  More soon.  Stay tuned.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Bill actions coming up – ACTION

Sunday, 3/22, 10:00 AM

Dear MSSA Friends,

We have actions coming up on two of our bills Monday and Tuesday, plus other bills percolating that needs your ongoing attention.

Public hearings:

SB 295, to end the prohibition on suppressors for hunting, will have a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee Monday morning, 3/23, at 9:00 AM.  Please show up to speak or contact Committee members in support of SB 295.

HB 234, to fund the Shooting Range Development Program and to prevent FWP from stealing the money the Legislature appropriates for this purpose, will have a first public hearing before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday at 8:30 AM, 3/24.  Please show up to speak for HB 234 or contact Committee members in support of HB 234.

To Governor:

Of course, HB 203 (non-enforcement of new federal gun control) and HB 298 (Permitless Carry) are headed for the Governor’s office (may arrive tomorrow).  Keep sending messages to the Governor in support of these bills (see my previous emails for talking points and contact methods).

Action soon:

HB 457, MSSA’s constitutional referendum to remove the archaic this-doesn’t-apply-to-concealed-weapons language from the RKBA in the Montana Constitution will soon come to the floor of the House for Second Reading debate and vote.  We need to get this 1884 dress code, "coat control" out of the Montana Constitution.  I’ll try to get an alert out as soon as I see HB 457 scheduled for Second Reading, so you can contact your or all Representatives, but you may see it scheduled as soon as I do if you’re watching the legislative Website.  We’ll only have short notice on this.

HB 598, to require a high level of judicial review and award costs and fees for state and local government violation of the RKBA – same story as HB 457 – coming soon to House Second Reading,; short notice.

SB 122, encourage manufacture of ammo components in Montana, same story as HB 457 and HB 598.

SB 143, Campus Carry, same story as SB 122, HB 457, and HB 598.

Folks, we are in the middle of the third lap of a four-lap race with our bills in the Legislature.  We are doing well, but we can’t let up now.  Not one bit.  Your continued support is ESSENTIAL to keeping these bills moving and making Montana gun laws better.

Thanks so much for your continued support!

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

More about Northwestern Energy and the RKBA

Dear MSSA Friends,

The ongoing attack by Northwestern Energy on the right to keep and bear arms that Montanans have reserved to themselves in the Montana Constitution is beginning to disclose interesting and questionable new issues about Northwestern.

Northwestern opposed the pro-RKBA House Bill 598 before the Legislature, justifying only 3% of its opinion by claiming HB 598 could affect its property rights or employee contracts (the remaining 97% was just a rant).

Well, words matter.  In the case of Northwesterns opposition to HB 598 and to justify its anti-RKBA stance, it was necessary for it to pretend to read words into the printed language of the bill that simply dont exist.  HB 598 says on Page 1 that it applies only to the state of Montana or any political subdivision or local government, and on Page 2 that it relates to a claim or defense only against the state.

HB 598 simply does not apply to any private-sector entities.  Northwestern pretends that the words or Northwestern Energy are magically in the bill, maybe somewhere between the lines, just because they say so (and dont you just love the Kings new clothes?)  Regardless of Northwesterns fantasy, those words are not in HB 598.

The alternative explanation is that Northwestern is so full of itself that it thinks it IS the State of Montana.  Actually, this explanation may get closer to the nut.

In its reports to investors, Northwest says it carries on its balance sheet an asset of Goodwill that it values at $355 million.  Yes, really.  A chunk of this incredible Goodwill value Northwestern claims on its balance sheet as an asset it attributes to a stable regulatory climate.

Thats an understated way for Northwestern to brag to investors that it has a lock on the Legislature and the Public Service Commission, a manifestation of the Copper Kings legacy in Montana by this foreign corporation that shouldn’t surprise us.  Northwestern Energy wants investors to believe it wields the political muscle to control the Legislature and the PSC, thus its claim of a stable regulatory climate.

If it does have that control, thats a foreign influence over Montana and its people that voters need to fix in the next election cycle.  If Northwestern is just blowing smoke, the Legislature and the PSC need to tell Northwestern in no uncertain terms to mind its own business.

Northwestern Energy of South Dakota has been granted a monopoly of market in Montana by the Legislature.  Government-created monopolies are always a potentially worrisome thing.  If Northwestern insists on throwing around the weight it gets from this captive market by using that Legislature-granted muscle to restrict the civil rights of Montanans, then its high time for the Legislature to either end this predatory monopoly or crank the regulatory screws dramatically down on Northwestern.

The Legislature is supposed to be the peoples voice, not Northwesterns handmaiden.  We all want reliable energy, but we aren’t willing to pay a political price for that of allowing Northwestern Energy of South Dakota to run Montana.  We pay enough for energy already out of our checkbooks.

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/montana-legislature/marbut-vs-northwestern-house-panel-advances-gun-rights-referendum-that/article_5707b010-f9ca-53b6-b69b-1da923bff2f1.html

Northwestern continues with its "circle the wagons" response and refuses to admit that it was off base and WAY outside it corporate mission area in opposing HB 598.  It still opposes the RKBA and HB 598.  Should we allow an out-of-state corporation that has a legislatively-granted monopoly to work against our constitutional rights?  Northwestern thinks that if they just dig in for a while this will all blow over and people will forget about it.  I don’t think so.

Are Northwestern investors listening to this hornets’ nest of controversy that Northwestern has kicked open in Montana?  Maybe, and maybe Northwestern will hear about their jitters.

Sorry so long, but I can’t resist one more comment.  Northwestern claims that I’ve "threatened" them by suggesting I might attend public hearings on issues of interest to Northwestern before the Legislature and the PSC.  Dang, I didn’t know I was so powerful that a giant corporation would feel "threatened" just because I might attend a public hearing, and might even use my First Amendment right to speak.  Dang.  Flattering.

Feel free to forward this or send more comments to Northwestern officers at:
Pat.Corcoran@northwestern.com
Pam.Bonrud@northwestern.com
Bobbi.Schroeppel@northwestern.com

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

WV governor vetoes Permitless Carry – question for Bullock

Dear MSSA Friends,

Today, West Virginia’s Democrat Governor vetoed the Permitless Carry bill there.  I’ve been watching WV because I’ll bet Montana Governor Bullock has been on the phone with the WV governor to discuss this.  A question you should ask Governor Bullock comes out of the WV Governor’s veto message.

You should ask Montana Governor Steve Bullock, "Do you really think criminals who want to carry concealed firearms inside city limits will apply to the sheriff for a permit if HB 298 does not become law?"

Carry on,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

FAX the Governor from your computer – free

Dear MSSA Friends,

In case you’re didn’t know of it, there a number of services Online through which you can send a fax for free, straight from your computer.  With these you can create a letter, save it as a .doc or .pdf file, and fax it to the Governor regarding MSSA bills arriving in the Governor’s office.

Today I used MyFax.com, which allows two faxes per day and up to 10 faxes per month for free.

All you need to do is create a short letter to the Governor, with standard letter format (date, inside address, greeting, body, closing, and signature line), save it as a .doc or .pdf file, and send it to the Governor’s FAX number, 444-5529, using such an Online service.  It’s easy.

I suspect faxes are more likely to be read than emails, so this might be a good way to address the Governor.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Contact Governor Bullock NOW – HB 203, local enforcement new federal gun laws

Dear MSSA Friends,

Immediately below are a number of methods to Contact Governor Bullock to urge his support of HB 203, MSSA’s bill to prevent enforcement of new federal gun laws.  I recommend that you use ALL of these methods to get messages to the Governor, or at least as many as you have available to you (e.g., I don’t use Twitter).

HB 203 will be on the Governor’s desk today or within a couple of days, so it’s imperative that you ACT NOW!

Pasted further below is the text of the letter I’m sending to the Governor by US Mail on MSSA letterhead and electronically about HB 203.  Feel free to farm this letter for ideas that should be expressed in your own words.  Your letter should be shorter than mine.  If you can’t do any more, you should at least send the Governor a message saying "I agree with MSSA’s position on HB 203.  Please support it."  Don’t threaten, be polite, and be brief, but ACT NOW.

————————-

Contact the Governor

Online:
http://governor.mt.gov/Home/Contact/shareopinion

By U.S. Mail:
Steve Bullock
Governor of Montana
Helena, Montana 59620

By phone:
406-444-3111
Toll Free: 855-318-1330
FAX: 406-444-5529

Email:  "Steve Bullock" <steve@stevebullock.com>

Twitter: @GovernorBullock

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovernorBullock
—————————————

Thanks loads for your help and support!

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

==================

March 19, 2015

Governor Steve Bullock
Capitol Station
Helena, Montana 59620

Dear Governor Bullock,

House Bill 203 is headed towards your desk.  We’d appreciate your support for HB 203.

Why should you support HB 203?  I see six primary reasons.

1)  Constitutional issues?  None.  In Printz v. US (an exactly on point 1995 case from Montana brought by a Montana sheriff refusing to enforce a new federal gun law) SCOTUS confirmed that Congress may not commandeer the personnel or resources of state or local governments.  So, under this decision, Montana has no obligation to enforce any federal gun laws.

2)  It’s what’s happening.  Three other states currently have laws to prohibit enforcement of new federal gun control: Kansas, Idaho, and Alaska.  Twelve states have introduced legislation to prohibit enforcement of new federal gun control: Arizona, Minnesota, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

3)  Not an academic exercise or statement.  In 1994, Congress actually enacted bans on firearms and magazines.  Fortunately, that ban expired in 2004, however there are bills before Congress now to reinstate those bans. The BATFE is constantly seeking ways to rewrite regulations to limit the right use firearms, witness its recent attempt to ban the most common ammunition for the most common rifle the U.S.  There are many more examples available.  This is a real and pending problem.

4)  States as laboratories of democracy.  In New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said that a "state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."  Brandeis saw this as healthy experimentation akin to the scientific method.  Looked at a bit differently, the states have reserved to themselves the power under the Tenth Amendment to do things differently and in ways that serve the culture and people of the state. This is one healthy facet of the freedom so essential to our form of government.

5)  HB 203 would not affect any existing federal laws.  Enforcement of all existing federal laws concerning felons and guns, domestic violence, machine guns, dealer licensing, and more, would remain unaffected by HB 203.

6)  Montana law enforcement personnel would have more time and resources to focus on Montana crimes if excused from enforcing new laws from distant Washington that are culturally inappropriate in Montana.

Please support HB 203.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Marbut, President

Contact Governor Bullock NOW – HB 298, Permitless Carry

Dear MSSA Friends,

Immediately below are a number of methods to Contact Governor Bullock to urge his support of HB 298, MSSA’s Permitless Carry bill.  I recommend that you use ALL of these methods to get messages to the Governor, or at least as many as you have available to you (e.g., I don’t use Twitter).

HB 298 will be on the Governor’s desk today or within a couple of days, so it’s imperative that you ACT NOW!

Pasted further below is the text of the letter I’m sending to the Governor by US Mail on MSSA letterhead and electronically about HB 298.  Feel free to farm this letter for ideas that should be expressed in your own words.  Your letter should be shorter than mine.  If you can’t do any more, you should at least send the Governor a message saying "I agree with MSSA’s position on HB 298.  Please support it."  Don’t threaten, be polite, and be brief, but ACT NOW.

————————-

Contact the Governor

Online:
http://governor.mt.gov/Home/Contact/shareopinion

By U.S. Mail:
Steve Bullock
Governor of Montana
Helena, Montana 59620

By phone:
406-444-3111
Toll Free: 855-318-1330
FAX: 406-444-5529

Email:  "Steve Bullock" <steve@stevebullock.com>

Twitter: @GovernorBullock

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovernorBullock
—————————————

Thanks loads for your help and support!

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

==================

March 19, 2015

Governor Steve Bullock
Capitol Station
Helena, Montana 59620

Dear Governor Bullock,

House Bill 298 is headed towards your desk.  We’d appreciate your support for HB 298.

Why should you support HB 298?  I see five primary reasons.

1)  Harmonizing law.  HB 298 harmonizes Montana law and makes the legal conditions inside the unmarked city limits lines the same as it has been outside city limits for the last 24 years.  That is, HB 598 allows non-criminals to carry concealed firearms without a permit, but HB 298 leaves the permitting process in place for those who want one.  There is zero evidence that unpermitted concealed carry has been any sort of problem in the 99.4% of Montana where it has been the norm and law since 1991.  It is high time that Montana quit discriminating against citizens in .6% of the state.  Why should you tell people inside city limits to sit in the back of the self defense bus?

2)  No harm, no foul.  Vermont has never since statehood required permits for concealed carry.  That has NEVER been a problem there – no evidence of elevated criminality or other problems.  It’s exactly the same report from the several other states that have adopted permitless carry.  Fears predicted about the effect of HB 298 in Montana have simply not materialized elsewhere.  Montana people are just as good and competent as the people of these other states.  No harm, no foul.

3)  The opponents.  Billionaire ex-Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg has formed and funded Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action to push gun control across the US.  EGS is registered as a lobbying principal in Montana and its registered lobbyist opposed HB 298 in the Legislature.  You will hear from EGS and MDA in opposition to HB 298.  We don’t need NYC-driven policy in Montana.  Our people, customs, and culture are not like theirs.  We hope your treatment of HB 298 will reflect Montana culture, not NYC culture.

4)  Coat control is nonsensical.  The current scheme amounts to government coat control.  It is now perfectly legal to carry a firearm openly (unconcealed) inside city limits.  That is constitutionally-protected.  What is illegal currently is to put on a coat if wearing a firearm and without a permit.  That just doesn’t make a lot of sense.  There are times of the year in Montana when it is very desirable to wear a coat.  Why should a person be required to get a permit to put on a coat just because the person happens to be inside the imaginary and unmarked line called city limits?

5)  Untrained people?  More discrimination.  The following states issue concealed carry permits and require NO training: Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington.  People from ALL of those states are allowed to carry concealed inside city limits when they visit Montana. They are already afforded the ability to exercise their right protected under the Second Amendment without a training mandate being attached to it, but yet our own citizens are not.  There is no evidence that these “untrained” people are a problem.

Please support HB 298.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Marbut, President