The House took several actions yesterday, including failing MSSA’s Campus Carry bill (SB143) by 49-50 on Second Reading, approving MSSA’s suppressors-for-hunting bill (SB 295) on Second Reading by 71-28, and approving MSSA’s Shooting Range Funding bill (HB 234) by 56-43 on Third Reading.
HB 234 has moved to the Senate. Assuming SB 295 is approved today on Third Reading in the House, it will go to the Governor.
About Campus Carry, it only received 49 Yes votes yesterday because all Democrats voted against it, as did a bunch of Republicans who characterize themselves as "responsible Republicans" or "moderate Republicans" and who commonly vote with Democrats on important bills. Although these House members ran as Republicans and were elected as Republicans, they are not conservatives. By casting their votes with Democrats, they give the Democrats effective control of the House, even though Republicans are ostensibly in the majority. The leader of the "responsible Republicans" opposing Campus Carry was Rep. Jeffrey Welborn (R-Dillon).
There was one other factor in play concerning this vote on Campus Carry. I’ve had two reports that operatives for billionaire NYC ex-Mayor Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Danger were calling Montanans and asking them to call the "responsible Republicans" in the House to ask them to oppose Campus Carry. So, it is likely that the "responsible Republicans" in the House who opposed Campus Carry became witting or unwitting tools for billionaire Bloomberg and his captive Everytown effort that is registered as a lobbying group in Montana with a NYC address.
Most of you know that MSSA has been successfully in this game for a long time. We play the long game. Governor Bullock vetoed this bill two years ago, and we expected he would veto it again. Therefore, our chief goal in the House was to get a recorded vote on Campus Carry there, so we can hold Representatives accountable for that vote at the next election. We got that. In addition, it would have been nice to get just one more veto on the Governor’s record going into the 2016 elections, but we already have him on record with his veto of Campus Carry from 2013.
Another way to look at this House vote on Campus Carry is that there were a bunch of "responsible Republicans" who are trying to help Governor Bullock get reelected next year, so they voted against SB 143 to protect the Governor from having the additional liability of a second Campus Carry veto on his record in 2016. It may clarify politics in Helena for you to think of these "responsible Republicans" as having signed onto Governor Bullock’s reelection effort for next year. That is surely the effect (and maybe the intent) of their votes against SB 143. In net, we may be pleased that these House members who were elected as Republicans have so clearly announced their intent to side with Bloomberg and Bullock. When they go home and start talking with constituents about reelection, they’ll swear they’re the greatest champions of the Second Amendment ever seen on Earth. That is, they’ll lie. But, we will have the voting records.
Finally, nice job on the Montana Standard opinion poll about the Governor’s veto of HB 298, Permitless Carry. The poll is now about 7:1 in disagreement with the Governor’s veto.
Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana