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MONTANA SHOOTING SPORTS ASSOCIATION
SUCCESSFUL WORK FOR GUN OWNERS AND HUNTERS OF MONTANA



MONTANA SHOOTING SPORTS ASSOCIATION
P.O. Box 4924, Missoula, MT 59806
mssa@mtssa.org

 

Montana Shooting Range Protection Act. 76-9-101 through 105, M.C.A. The first shooting range protection law in the U.S., written and lobbied successfully through the Montana Legislature by MSSA, the SRPA prevents the arbitrary involuntary closure of shooting range because of noise complaints, allegations of lead or copper pollution, zoning, master plans, population encroachment and other reasons. Ranges may only be closed because of proven safety defects, and then range operators must be given notice and opportunity to refute safety allegations, and must be given opportunity to cure provable safety defects.

Game Lawfully Taken Becomes the Personal Property of the Hunter. 87-2-509, M.C.A. From the common law in old England, it has always been the presumption that all game belongs to the state (or to the king). The status remained the same, even if the meat was in the hunter's freezer. Not only did this expose some hunters to uncertain legal issues, it muddied the question of whether hunters could donate game meat to food banks or needy individuals. MSSA wrote and got passed a law that clarifies that game, once lawfully taken and tagged, becomes the personal property of the hunter.

Gun owner not liable for criminal acts committed with a stolen firearm. 27-1-709, M.C.A. A man was visiting a sick parent in a Billings hospital. Some problem teenagers got into his pickup and stole everything they could rip off, including his camera, radio, stereo, cigarettes, other goods, and a handgun. Later, one of the kids was fooling with the gun and shot and killed another of the thieves. The dead youth's parents sued the shooter and gun owner alleging that the gun owner was negligently responsible for the death for not adequately securing his firearm. The district court agreed, as did the Montana Supreme Court. The 1997 Legislature passed an MSSA-advocated bill (HB 352) clarifying that a gun owner is not responsible for the misuse of a stolen firearm. 27-1-709, M.C.A.

Mandatory Issue Concealed Weapon Permits. 45-8-315, M.C.A. through 330. It used to be that issuance of CWPs was solely at the unregulated discretion of district court judges. In over half of the counties in Montana, permits were not available, at all. In the other half, permits were only practically available to those with personal connections to the sheriff or judge (with the exception of Silverbow County, in which any law-abiding citizen could get a permit). In 1991, MSSA successfully pressed a broad reform that required sheriffs to issue permits to any law abiding resident within 60 days of application. The new law works fine, and there are thousands of permits issued all across Montana. The early fears by some law enforcement administrators that the new law would encourage an increase of crimes of violence with firearms have proven to be totally unfounded.

Local governments preemption. 45-8-351, M.C.A. There is a preemption law in Montana that prevents local governments from passing gun control ordinances, except for regulating the discharge of firearms inside city limits, and regulating the carrying of firearms into public parks and public buildings. This law was enacted in 1985 with the assistance of people who later founded MSSA.

Second Conviction of Hunter Harassment is a Felony. 87-3-142, M.C.A. It used to be the law that conviction of hunter harassment was a misdemeanor crime - punishable by little more than a slap on the wrist. The professional anti-hunting, hunt disrupters had little qualm about committing their harassment protests in Montana, although they would shun states where the penalties were steeper. MSSA pressed through the law that makes second conviction a felony, with hard time in the state prison. Since passage of this law, Montana has had no second hunter harassment incidents by the professional protesters.

Firearm Safety Instructors Exempt from Liability. 27-1-721, M.C.A. It has become more and more difficult to recruit firearm instructors because of possible exposure of instructors' personal assets to lawsuits over gun accidents by an instructor's student. This law, written and pushed successfully by MSSA, exempts firearm safety instructors from acts or omissions of students as long as the instructor did not use gross negligence in training the student.

Right to Keep and Bear Arms Week. 1-1-224, M.C.A. Written and pushed by MSSA, this law establishes the first week of March as an official period for Montanans to celebrate their cherished right to keep and bear arms.

Hunting Heritage Week. 1-1-226, M.C.A. Another MSSA bill - The third week of September is set aside, by law, to celebrate Montana's heritage and culture of hunting game animals.

Gun safety in schools. 1991 Senate Joint Resolution 15. Encourages gun safety training in the elementary schools of Montana. MSSA-requested 1997 House Bill 314 (now 20-7-132, M.C.A.) directs schools to adopt a gun safety program for kids.

Shooting sports in schools. Senate Joint Resolution 16. Encourages the adoption of rimfire competition as an intramural and interscholastic sport in the high schools of Montana. SJ16 notes that the shooting sports are gender neutral, and a sport that is available to some students with disabilities, as opposed to some other sports that are available only to the few most athletically gifted in the school. Also, in shooting sports, small, rural schools can compete on an equal footing with larger, urban schools.

Handgun hunting districts - allow big game hunting with handguns in special districts restricted to shotguns and muzzleloaders. 87-1-304, M.C.A. The Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission had restricted certain hunting districts to use only of shotguns or muzzleloading rifles, usually riverbottom districts in semi-populated areas. This limitation was for safety because of projectile reach. MSSA obtained a change in the law to also allow use of handguns in these districts.

Sporting goods stores may exceed fire codes for storage of smokeless powder and primers. 50-61-120, M.C.A. The Uniform Fire Code is produced by the Western Fire Chiefs conference and then adopted for code enforcement by cities, towns and the state. The UFC used to specify that stores could have no more than 20 pounds of smokeless powder and no more than 1,000 primers on premises at any time. These limits did not allow stores to stock sufficient components to service the reloading market. MSSA wrote and lobbied through a law that supersedes the UFC and allows stores to stock up to 400 pounds of smokeless powder and up to 125,000 small arms primers.

Easements to secure a safety zone around a shooting range. 70-17-101, M.C.A. Owners and operators of a shooting range need to secure a safety zone of property adjacent to the range, but often do not have the financial resources to buy the necessary land. This law, generated and pushed by MSSA, allows range operators to use easements to secure safety zones around ranges.

Non-resident minor children of Montana residents may hunt as residents. 87-2-102, M.C.A. Some children of split homes have a parent who resides in Montana. Such parents have asked why their kids can't come to Montana and hunt with them using resident licenses. MSSA initiated and pressed a law that clarified that the non-resident minor children of Montana residents can hunt in Montana as residents.

Over-zealous federal officers . Many people are concerned about the actions of over-zealous federal officers. We believe that the county sheriff should be able to protect us from federal police who exceed their authority. MSSA first introduced a bill with criminal penalties for violation, but ultimately obtained passage of a resolution a) asking all federal officers to notify the county sheriff prior to any arrest, search or seizure in the sheriff's county, b) requiring the Montana Department of Justice to maintain a log of federal operations in Montana and note which ones happened with the advance notice to the sheriff, and c) requiring the Montana Secretary of State to send copies of the resolution to a long list of federal agencies.

Montana exempted from the federal "gun-free school zones" 45-8-360, M.C.A. A little-known federal law makes it a federal crime to travel within 1,000 feet of a school grounds if you have a firearm in your vehicle that is not BOTH unloaded and locked away. Because Montana schools are on the main streets, this stupid federal law makes criminals of a majority of Montana citizens over the course of the year. MSSA successfully pushed state legislation that exempts from this federal law anyone in Montana who is protected by Montana's constitutional right to keep and bear arms (all non-criminal adults).

Funding shooting range development. 87-1-276-9, M.C.A. MSSA successfully pressed a bill (HB 389, 1999) to establish a program for matching grants for shooting range establishment and improvement using money from hunting license fees and administered by the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Preventing cities from suing gunmakers. 7-1-115, M.C.A. In 1999, MSSA pushed a bill that now prevents Montana cities from filing harassment lawsuits against gunmakers.

Machine guns and silencers - killing old laws. As a holdover from the Prohibition era, Montana had laws making it illegal to possess full auto firearms using pistol-caliber ammo, or silencers, both in conflict with current federal law. MSSA succeeded with a bill (SB427, 1999) to wipe these archaic laws off the books.

Repeal the Brady Law. MSSA successfully lobbied through the Legislature a Joint Resolution of the House and Senate calling upon Congress to repeal the unwanted and unneeded federal Brady Law.

CWP "prohibited places". Because of some under-the-table deal-making in 1991, the Montana law about concealed weapons permits has had provisions preventing the exercise of CWPs in "prohibited places"; bars, banks and public buildings. MSSA successfully advanced two bills in 1999 to roll back the "prohibited places" restrictions.

CWP reciprocity. 45-8-329, M.C.A. For years, we have attempted to generate CWP reciprocity with other states. In 1995, MSSA pushed through a bill authorizing the governor to negotiate reciprocity with other states. No reciprocity resulted from that bill. In 1999, MSSA switched directions and pushed a bill (HB459) recognizing the permits of any states which do a criminal background check before issuing a CWP, and where the permittee has the permit and an official ID (e.g. drivers license) in possession. Many states have "we'll recognize yours if you recognize ours"-type laws. Montana will gain immediate reciprocity with these states. Montana now recognizes the permits from 34 other states - see the MT DOJ list at: http://www.doj.mt.gov/enforcement/criminaljustice/concealedweapons.asp

Gun buys for CWP-holders under the Brady Law. MSSA passed a law, 45-8-330, M.C.A., specifying that if a person has a Montana Concealed Weapon Permit that they have already had their background check pursuant to the federal Brady Law, and may buy guns from federally licensed dealers without submitting to or waiting for a background check.

Defective firearm liability. 27-1-720, M.C.A. protects firearm manufactures and sellers from damages caused by firearms that are not defective.

Defenders' liability. A law pushed by MSSA in 2001, now 27-1-722, M.C.A., prevents a criminal injured by his intended victim from suing the victim for injuries sustained in the attempted crime.

In the 2003 Legislative Session, MSSA achieved the passage of several pro-gun, pro-hunting bills.

Right to Hunt. A constitutional referendum passed that will allow Montana voters to vote in the General Election of 2004 to put the right to hunt into the Montana Constitution.

Predator management. A bill passed that requires the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to manage wolves, lions and bears for the preservation of hunting opportunities, protection of livestock and pets, and the safety of people in outdoor activities.

Wolf delisting. A resolution specifying that the state must negotiate terms of wolf delisting favorable to Montana, and specifying essential terms.

Lautenberg warning. A bill was passed requiring judges to warn a person if an action is pending before a court that might have the effect of triggering a firearm possession disability under the federal Lautenberg law, such as a firearms-debarring divorce-action restraining order, or a guilty plea or conviction for a domestic disturbance.

Increase shooting range funding. The amount of money appropriated by the Legislature for matching grants by FWP, money from hunting licenses, to fund shooting range development was increased from the 2001 figure of $180,000 to $320,000 for the 2003 biennium.

Terrorist Free America Act. A resolution was passed calling on Congress to pass a "Terrorist Free America Act", asserting that only the whole people of the U.S. can effectively interdict terrorist acts, and specifying that people may not be inhibited in this important role by being disarmed.

Game counts published. A bill was passed requiring FWP to publish annually both game counts and game count methodology, so the public may see if FWP is making gains on compliance with shortcomings found in their game-counting methods in the performance audit done by the Legislative Auditor.

Killing the bad stuff. MSSA has opposed and killed many pieces of anti-gun and anti-hunting legislation (such as a bill to give the county commissioners of all counties the authority to ban the discharge of firearms in any or all parts of counties, and many others).

Other activities - affiliations. MSSA is the primary organization providing gun safety materials to Montana schools. MSSA does an annual, pre-hunting season, multi-media campaign encouraging hunters to police their own ranks for hunter ethics. MSSA conducts an annual campaign encouraging hunters to donate excess game meat to food banks and the needy. MSSA is the primary organization in Montana asserting the rights and of gun owners and hunters. MSSA is affiliated with the National Rifle Association, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the Second Amendment Foundation.

Join MSSA

The Montana Shooting Sports Association is actively fighting for and asserting your right to keep and bear arms. We need you to become a member. Send $25 for an individual annual membership to MSSA at P.O. Box 4924, Missoula, Montana 59806 . An MSSA membership application is on the MSSA Website at:

http://www.mtssa.org/membership.phtm