OVER THREE DECADES OF 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.
2021 – Permitless carry and more. MSSA’s landmark legislation designed to eliminate dangerous “gun free zones.” It includes permitless carry of firearms, restaurant carry, bar carry, and campus carry (the campus carry feature is now under attack by the education establishment with litigation in 2022.)
2021 – School parking lots. An MSSA-written law clarifies that a student may not be expelled from school because of a firearm in a locked vehicle in a school parking lot.
2021 – Inhibit federal gun control. An MSSA-written law prohibits state and local public employees from enforcing or aiding in enforcement of any new federal gun control laws or rules.
2019 – Prohibit local gun control. An MSSA-written bill set a public vote on a measure to eliminate nearly all possible gun control by local governments throughout Montana. The referendum established LR 130, which was subsequently approved by Montana voters.
2017 – Define “shall not be called in question.” A Senate Joint Resolution written by MSSA for the first time in Montana history defined the important phrase “shall not be called in question” as used in the Montana Constitution to reserve the Right to Keep or Bear Arms to the people.
2017 – Legal residents and CWPs. An MSSA-supported law allows permanent legal U.S. residents who live in Montana to apply for a concealed weapon permit.
2017 – Knives are not “concealed weapons.” An MSSA-supported law removed knives from the definition of concealed weapons.
2015 – Ammunition Availability Act. This MSSA-written law encourages the manufacture of smokeless powder, primers, and cartridge brass in Montana by offering tax breaks, liability protection, and access to existing economic development programs.
2015 – Suppressors legal for hunting. An MSSA-initiated bill removed the prohibition on using otherwise legal suppressors for hunting.
2013 – “Discharging firearms” not disorderly conduct. The act of “discharging firearms” is no longer a crime of disorderly conduct.
2013 – Medical privacy for gun owners. An MSSA-written bill created a law prohibits health care providers from inquiring about patients’ ownership or use of firearms.
2013 – Preserving confidentiality of concealed weapon permit information. An MSSA-supported law requires that information submitted by applicants for concealed weapon permits may not be released publicly by sheriffs or MT DoJ.
2011 – Shooting ranges are not “nuisances.” An MSSA-initiated law clarifies that shooting ranges are not considered to be “nuisances” to be attacked by lawsuits.
2011 – Preventing FWP from banning lead in ammunition. An MSSA-initiated law prohibits the Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks from regulating the type of ammunition that may be used for hunting.
2009 – Recruiting and retaining young hunters. MSSA-initiated 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.
2009 – Guns in National Parks. MSSA-initiated bill urged Congress to permit visitors to National Parks to carry firearms for self-defense (Congress subsequently passed a law to this effect.).
2009 – Self-defense. MSSA’s landmark HB 228 made 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 law:
– Declares as policy that self defense is a natural right and that self defense by citizens reduces crime
– Declares as policy 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 had to prove that they were justified in using force
– Declares as 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 (recognizing the right to “stand your ground”)
– 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 (without fear of a “brandishing” charge)
– 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. 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 a home or otherwise choose to rent
– 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 does not apply to a person who committed a violent crime or a crime in which a weapon was used
– Creates the ability to use reasonable force to effect the citizen’s arrest of a person believed to have committed a crime and to be able to hold the person until law enforcement can be summoned.
2009 – Montana Firearms Freedom Act. An MSSA-written law declared 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.” Copies of our MFFA have been enacted in six other states and introduced in 25 other states.
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.
2007 – No confiscation of firearms in a declared emergency. MSSA-initiated law prohibits confiscation of firearms in a declared emergency. After Hurricane Katrina, law enforcement authorities forcibly disarmed many Louisiana residents. This won’t happen in Montana!
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.
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 that those non-resident minor children of Montana residents can hunt in Montana as residents.
2003 – Game counts and methods made public. This MSSA-initiated law requires DFWP to publish annually both game counts and game count methods so that the public may see if DFWP is repairing faulty game-counting methods exposed in a performance audit done by the Legislative Auditor.
2003 – Lautenberg warning. An MSSA-initiated law requires 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.
2003 – Large predator management. MSSA-initiated 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 – Right to Hunt. MSSA effort enshrines the right to hunt, fish, and trap in the Montana Constitution.
2001 – Wolf delisting. MSSA-backed resolution specifies the state must negotiate terms of wolf delisting favorable to Montana.
2001 – Protecting victims from liability for injuries to a criminal. MSSA-initiated law prevents a criminal injured by his intended victim from being awarded compensation from the victim for injuries sustained in the attempted crime.
1999 – Concealed Carry Reciprocity. MSSA-initiated law recognized the permits of any states that conduct 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 will recognize yours if you recognize ours”-type laws. With this law, Montana gained immediate reciprocity with these states. Montana now recognizes permits from most other states.
1999 – Concealed Carry in “prohibited places.” Because of some under-the-table deal-making in 1991, the Montana law governing concealed weapons permits had provisions preventing the exercise of CWPs in “prohibited places;” i.e., bars, banks and public buildings. MSSA successfully advanced two bills in 1999 to roll back the “prohibited places” restrictions.
1999 – Machine guns and suppressors – removal of old laws. MSSA-written law wiped old laws off the books. As a holdover from the Prohibition era, Montana had laws making it illegal to possess suppressors or full auto firearms using pistol-caliber ammo, both in conflict with current federal law. Suppressors remained illegal for hunting in Montana until MSSA fixed that too in 2015.
1999 – Preventing cities from suing gunmakers. MSSA-backed law now prevents Montana cities from filing harassment lawsuits against gunmakers.
1999 – Funding for shooting range development. MSSA-initiated 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 $25 million in improvements to Montana shooting ranges have occurred.
1997 – Terrorist-free America Act. MSSA successfully urged the Legislature to pass a declaration that citizens must remain armed for national security against terrorism. Congress has been asked to pass a federal law to implement this.
1997 – Montana exempted from the federal “gun-free school zones.” Federal law makes it a federal crime to travel within 1,000 feet of 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 – Protection from 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 – Gun owners not liable for criminal acts committed with stolen firearms. The 1997 Legislature passed an MSSA-initiated 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 by someone else with your stolen firearm!
1995 – Simplify gun buys for CWP-holders. MSSA-initiated law specifies that if a person has a Montana Concealed Weapon Permit for which 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.
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 which requires a background check of a gun buyer at a licensed dealer.
1995 – Liability protection for firearm safety instructors. It has become more and more difficult to recruit firearm instructors because of possible exposure of instructors’ personal assets to lawsuits over future accidents by an instructor’s student. This law initiated by MSSA exempts firearm safety instructors from acts or omissions of students as long as the instructor did not commit gross negligence in training the student.
1993 – Second conviction of hunter harassment is a felony. Formerly, conviction of hunter harassment was only a misdemeanor crime. MSSA-initiated 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!
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-initiated law states that lawfully taken and tagged game becomes your personal property.
1993 – Handgun hunting districts. MSSA-backed law allows big game hunting with handguns in special districts restricted to shotguns and muzzleloaders.
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.
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.
1991 – Gun safety education 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 – Hunting Heritage Week. This MSSA-initiated law sets aside the third week of September to celebrate Montana’s heritage and culture of hunting game animals. Go celebrate!
1991 – Right to Keep and Bear Arms Week. This MSSA-initiated law establishes the first week of March as an official period for Montanans to celebrate our cherished right to keep and bear arms. Go celebrate!
1991 – Montana Shooting Range Protection Act. MSSA-initiated law prevents range closures due to contamination of soils by lead, copper, and other claims. In other states, anti-gun groups use this strategy to shut down ranges. Not in Montana! This was the first such law in the U.S., one of many trailbreaking examples set by MSSA.
1991 – Mandatory Issue Concealed Weapon Permits. MSSA-initiated law states that law-abiding residents can 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.
1989 – Protection for sporting goods stores that sell smokeless powder and primers. The Uniform 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-initiated law supersedes the UFC and allows stores to stock up to 400 pounds of smokeless powder and up to 125,000 small arms primers.
1987 – Prevention of non-defective firearm liability. MSSA-backed law protects firearm manufactures and sellers from liability for damages caused by firearms that are not defective.
1985 – Local government preemption. Even prior to founding MSSA, the founding members worked hard for your gun rights. These founders supported a successful bill 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.
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 special storage requirements for firearms or ammunition.
No state waiting period for firearm purchase.
No limit on the number of 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 or possess.
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 checks 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.
No state licenses, permits or registration to own machine guns.
No state licenses, permits or registration to own suppressors.
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.