Some have asked me, "Just what did we accomplish with the 2015 legislative session?" Now that the dust is settling, I can answer that.
Montana gun owners made at least three significant steps forward in the 2015 session:
1) MSSA’s flagship bill to encourage the manufacture of smokeless powder, small arms primers, and cartridge brass, has been enacted. Since SB 122 has an immediate effective date, it is effective now. It includes defectless product liability protection for ammo component manufacturers, access to all existing Montana economic development programs for would-be manufacturers, and tax breaks. The tax breaks kick in as of December 31st of this year. Time will tell if SB 122 is effective in spurring ammo component manufacture in Montana. SB 122 is both to create jobs and to insure future availability of ammo components in Montana, an important long-range goal.
2) It is now legal to hunt with suppressors in Montana. MSSA has sought for a decade to remove prohibitions on suppressor use. The only remaining restrictions are those imposed under federal law, and two Montana laws: One makes it a state crime to possess a suppressor not possessed legally under federal law, and another makes it a state crime to commit some other crime with a suppressor, legal bones thrown to placate the "crime-fighting" types.
3) We got $700,000 appropriated for the Shooting Range Development Program (SRDP) for the next two years for FWP to make matching grants to help establish and improve local shooting facilities. Although we got the SRDP well funded in the 2011 and 2013 legislative sessions, FWP has diverted most of the money for other uses. We had a real fight over this diversion in the Legislature this session, and the Legislature is NOT HAPPY with FWP’s diversion of legislative appropriations by FWP. There was enough stink raised over this FWP diversion that we expect FWP has seen the light and will spend the money the Legislature appropriated for the intended purpose this budget cycle.
All things considered, getting these three things done constitutes a substantial win this session. There were no anti-gun bills that made any progress whatsoever.
Another sort of progress was that we got a killer voting record on legislators who tell voters they are pro-gun, but vote consistently anti-gun. MSSA and Montana gun owners will be using this voting record, as planned, to correct or replace errant legislators who have misinformed their constituents about their actual support for the RKBA.
One other interesting event in this session was that, for the first time, we had serious spending for lobbying by an out-of-state, anti-gun entity. Everytown for Gun Control, an entity (not an organization) founded and funded by billionaire and ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spent a reported (so far) $56,000 lobbying the Legislature, about five times what MSSA was able to spend. Although this does constitute a warning to Montana gun owners that super-rich, out-of-state, gun control advocates are now trying to buy Montana political objectives (as they recently did with an initiative in Washington State), this effort will likely boomerang on them. Consider this: Governor Bullock vetoed two bills that Bloomberg spent money to oppose, bills approved by a majority of the Montana Senate and House. When Bullock runs for reelection, he will need to explain to the people of Montana just why he did the bidding of NY Bloomberg rather than support the will of Montana people. Some errant, incumbent legislators will squirm when tasked to make the same explanation to constituents upon reelection efforts. Of course, these anti-gun candidates will lie, but MSSA now has the voting records to destroy the lies.
Thanks ever so much to all of you who kept shoulder to the wheel throughout the session, and sent messages to legislators whenever I asked. This was IMPORTANT to achieving the goals we reached. Thanks to the many legislators who carried and supported our bills. Thanks to Elisa who ramped up MSSA’s social networking for the first time this session. Thanks to Brian Judy, Montana’s State Liaison from the NRA, who did all he could to support MSSA’s efforts, even though he was swamped with hard political fights at the same time in the other states also under his umbrella. And finally, thanks to those of you who have recognized the value that MSSA delivers and have joined MSSA. Your memberships provide the essential financial support necessary to continue MSSA’s long run of successe s for Montana gun owners (67 pro-gun bills enacted in nearly three decades).
For any of you who are not yet MSSA members, please go immediately to the MSSA membership page at:
print off the membership application and mail it in with your check*, TODAY! You get a LOT of bang for your bucks.
* P.S. MSSA and privacy. MSSA is hypersensitive to member privacy. That’s why we do not yet have a way for you to join MSSA and pay electronically Online. We’ve looked at several electronic options, but have not yet found one that we believe meets MSSA’s demands to not compromise or expose the MSSA membership list in any way. We haven’t given up on this, but we’re not there yet.