SUCCESSFUL WORK FOR FIREARM OWNERS, HUNTERS, AND PEOPLE OF MONTANA
“Montana has the best gun laws in the U.S., probably the World, primarily because of the effective pro-gun and pro-hunting political work MSSA has done in Montana.”
– David Kopel, legal scholar, Independence Institute.
Following are some of the political and legal successes MSSA has achieved for Montana gun owners and hunters.
1985 – Local governments preemption.
Even prior to founding MSSA, the founding members worked hard for your gun rights. These founders backed law preventing local governments from passing arbitrary 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.
1987 – Prevention of non-defective firearm liability.
MSSA-backed law protects firearm manufactures and sellers from damages caused by firearms that are not defective.
1989 – Sporting goods stores may exceed fire codes for storage of smokeless powder and primers.
The Unified Fire Code used to specify that stores could not exceed 20 pounds of smokeless powder or 1,000 primers on premises at any time. This MSSA-backed law supersedes the UFC and allows stores to stock up to 400 pounds of smokeless powder and up to 125,000 small arms primers.
1991 – Mandatory Issue Concealed Weapon Permits.
MSSA-backed law states that law abiding residents can now get a permit issued within 60 days of application. Although many of your own law enforcement agencies fought against your right to carry, MSSA prevailed.
1991 – Montana Shooting Range Protection Act.
MSSA-backed law prevents range closures due to contamination of soils by lead, copper, & other claims. Anti-gun groups use this to shut down ranges all over the USA. Not in Montana!
1991 – Right to Keep and Bear Arms Week.
This MSSA bill establishes law where the first week of March is an official period for Montanans to celebrate their cherished right to keep and bear arms. Go celebrate!
1991 – Hunting Heritage Week.
This MSSA bill establishes law where the third week of September is set aside to celebrate Montana’s heritage and culture of hunting game animals. Go celebrate!
1991 – Gun safety in schools.
This MSSA Senate Joint Resolution encourages gun safety training in the elementary schools of Montana and directs schools to adopt a gun safety program for kids.
1991 – Shooting sports in schools.
This MSSA Senate Joint Resolution encourages the adoption of rimfire competition as an intramural and interscholastic sport in the high schools of Montana. In shooting sports, small, rural schools can compete on an equal footing with larger, urban schools.
1993 – Easements to secure a safety zone around a shooting range.
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 MSSA-authored law allows range operators to use easements to secure safety zones around ranges.
1993 – Handgun hunting districts
MSSA-backed law helped establish allowing big game hunting with handguns in special districts restricted to shotguns and muzzleloaders.
1993 – Game Lawfully Taken Becomes the Personal Property of the Hunter.
Prior to this law, all game was the property of the State. Even if it was in your freezer. MSSA-backed law states game (lawfully taken and tagged) is now your personal property.
1993 – Second Conviction of Hunter Harassment is a Felony.
Formerly, conviction of hunter harassment was only a misdemeanor crime. MSSA-backed law makes second conviction a felony, with hard time in state prison. Since passage of this law, Montana hunters have incurred no second hunter harassment incidents by protesters!
1995 – Firearm Safety Instructors Exempt from Liability.
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 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.
1995 – 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.
1995 – Gun buys for CWP-holders under the Brady Law.
MSSA-backed law specifies that if a person has a Montana Concealed Weapon Permit where they have already had a background check pursuant to the federal Brady Law, they may buy guns from federally licensed dealers without submitting to or waiting for a background check.
1997 – Gun owners not liable for criminal acts committed with stolen firearms.
The 1997 Legislature passed an MSSA-backed law clarifying that a gun owner is not responsible for the misuse of a stolen firearm. Prior to this, you could be charged with the crime committed with your stolen firearm!
1997 – Over-zealous federal officers.
Many people are concerned about the actions of over-zealous federal officers. MSSA believes the county sheriff should be able to protect us from federal police who exceed their authority. This MSSA-authored resolution passed in 1997:
a) asks all federal officers to notify the county sheriff prior to any arrest, search or seizure in the sheriff’s county,
b) requires 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
c) requires the Montana Secretary of State to send copies of this resolution to a long list of federal agencies.
1997 – Montana exempted from the federal “gun-free school zones”
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. Since Montana schools are on the main streets, this federal law makes criminals of a majority of Montana citizens over the course of the year. Thanks to MSSA, state law is now in place that exempts anyone in Montana who is protected by Montana’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms (all non-criminal adults) from this Federal law.
1997 – Terrorist-free America Act.
MSSA successfully lobbied in the House and Senate to pass a declaration that citizens must remain armed for national security against terrorism. Congress is now asked to pass a federal law to implement this determination.
1999 – Funding shooting range development.
MSSA-backed bill establishes the Shooting Range Development Act creating 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. Every two years MSSA must fight for legislative appropriation to fund the SRDA. Since establishment of this program by MSSA, over $6 million in improvements to Montana shooting ranges have occurred under the SRDA.
1999 – Preventing cities from suing gunmakers.
MSSA-backed bill now prevents Montana cities from filing harassment lawsuits against gunmakers.
1999 – Machine guns and silencers – removal of old laws.
MSSA-written law wipes old laws off the books. 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.
1999 – Concealed Carry in “prohibited places”.
Because of some under-the-table deal-making in 1991, the Montana law about concealed weapons permits 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.
1999 – Concealed Carry Reciprocity.
MSSA-backed bill recognizes 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 most other states.
2001 – Prevention of Victim’s liability for injuries to a criminal.
MSSA-backed law prevents a criminal injured by his intended victim from suing the victim for injuries sustained in the attempted crime.
2001 – Wolf delisting.
MSSA-backed resolution specifies the state must negotiate terms of wolf delisting favorable to Montana.
2003 – Right to Hunt.
MSSA-backed law creates a Right to Hunt fully reserved in the Montana Constitution.
2003 – Large predator management.
MSSA-backed law 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.
2003 – Lautenberg warning.
MSSA-backed law 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.
2005 – Non-resident minor children of Montana residents may hunt as residents.
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. This MSSA-authored law clarifies the non-resident minor children of Montana residents can hunt in Montana as residents.
2003 – Game counts and methods made public. 87-1-201
MSSA-backed law requires FWP to publish annually both game counts and game count methods, so the public may see if FWP is repairing faulty game-counting methods in the performance audit done by the Legislative Auditor.
2007 – Be Safe, MSSA gun safety program for kids.
This MSSA Senate Joint Resolution recognizes MSSA’s Be Safe as the most suitable firearm safety program for kids in all Montana schools.
2007 – No confiscation of firearms in a declared emergency.
MSSA-backed law outlaws confiscation of firearms in a declared emergency. After Hurricane Katrina, many Louisiana residents were forcibly disarmed by law enforcement authorities.
2007 – Increased shooting range funding by 683%.
The amount of money from hunting licenses to fund shooting range development was increased from $180,000 to $1,000,000 for the 2007 biennium. This money taken from hunter licenses would otherwise end up in the state general fund.
2009 – Montana Firearms Freedom Act.
MSSA-backed law declares that any firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition made and retained in Montana are not subject to any federal authority to regulate commerce “among the states.” Clones of our MFFA are now enacted in six other states and introduced in 25 other states.
2009 – Self defense.
MSSA’s landmark HB 228, passed in 2009 makes many important changes in Montana law about when and how a person may possess or use a firearm for self defense without fear of prosecution for doing so. This bill does the following:
– Creates clear policy statement by the Legislature that self defense is a natural right and that self defense by citizens reduces crime
– Makes clear policy statement by the Legislature that the right to bear arms in Montana is a fundamental (important legal term) and individual right
– Reverses guilty-until-proven-innocent for people defending themselves
– Previously, defenders must have proven that they were justified in using force
– Legislative declaration of policy that a defender has no duty to summon help or flee before using force to defend in any place the defender has a lawful right to be
– Declares that open carry is legal in Montana
– Clarifies that a defender may announce “I have a gun,” with no more fear of prosecution under Montana’s overbroad felony “Intimidation” statute
– Clarifies that a person may show an attacker that the defender is armed, and may even draw the gun if the defender genuinely fears attack
– Requires that when police investigate an incident where self defense is claimed investigators must collect evidence that may support a claim of self defense as well as any other evidence
– Improves conditions for a defender to use force in any occupied structure. This applies to all occupied structures, not just a dwelling.
– Requires that police may not destroy any firearms seized – any firearms seized must either be returned to the rightful owner or sold back into the marketplace
– Specifies that landlords may not prevent tenants from possessing firearms. This not only protects travelers staying in motels, but also protects those who cannot afford to own their own homes.
– Allows restoration of the right to bear arms for people convicted of non-violent crimes who have done their time and been released from state supervision – this will not apply to a person who committed a violent crime or a crime where a weapon was used
– Creates the ability to use reasonable force to affect the citizen’s arrest of a person believed to have committed a crime – to be able to hold the person until law enforcement can be summoned.
2009 – Guns in National Parks
MSSA-backed bill urged Congress to permit visitors to National Parks to be able to carry firearms for self-defense (Congress subsequently passed a law to this effect.).
2009 – Recruiting and retaining young hunters.
MSSA-backed law allows full-time, non-resident college students, and Montana kids going to college out-of-state to purchase hunting licenses for the same cost as resident licenses.
2011 – Preventing FWP from banning lead in ammunition
An MSSA-sourced bill prohibits the Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks from regulating the type of ammunition that may be used for hunting.
2011 – Shooting ranges are not “nuisances”
An MSSA-suported bill to clarify that shooting ranges may not be considered to be “nuisances” to be attacked by lawsuits.
2013 – Concealed Weapon Permit info confidential
An MSSA-supported bill to require that information submitted by applicants for concealed weapon permits may not be released publicly by sheriffs or MT DoJ.
2013 – Medical privacy for gun owners
Health care providers may not inquire about patients’ ownership or use of firearms.
2013 – “Discharging firearms” not disorderly conduct
The act of “discharging firearms” is no longer a crime of disorderly conduct.
State laws and restrictions Montana does NOT have:
No registration of firearms.
No registration of firearm owners.
No permits required to buy firearms.
No permits required to own firearms.
No permits required to possess firearms.
No permits required to transport firearms.
No permits required to buy ammunition.
No storage requirements for firearms or ammunition.
No state waiting period for firearm purchase.
No limit on the firearms a person may buy in a specified period.
No sales tax on firearms or ammunition.
No personal property tax on firearms or ammunition.
No limit on the number of firearms a person may own.
No limit on the number of firearms a person may keep at home.
No “arsenal license” required for storage of multiple firearms.
No gun locks required by law.
No state background check for firearm purchase.
No regulation of private firearm sales between individuals.
No legal duty to retreat or flee if attacked.
No permits needed to operate a shooting range outside cities.
No permit required to carry concealed weapons outside cities – (99.4 percent of Montana).
No licenses, permits or registration to own machine guns.
No licenses, permits or registration to own silencers (but can’t be used to hunt game).
No restrictions on firearm type or caliber for general game hunting.
No regulation of gun shows or firearm sales at gun shows.
No permits for gun shows.
Virtually no restrictions to shooting on public or private lands outside cities.
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 affiliated with the National Rifle Association, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Second Amendment Foundation, and associated with Gun Owners of America.