February 27, 4:15PM
Dear MSSA Friends,
We started the session with a LOT of bills, the most MSSA has ever pushed in one session. That’s good and bad. It’s good because, even given attrition, we’re more likely to come out the other end with a number of bills passed, and I’ve always thought it’s better to keep legislators debating and voting on pro-gun stuff, so they have less time and attention to think about anti-gun stuff. It’s bad because it dilutes our efforts and effectiveness somewhat. In net, I think it’s a good strategy, even though it means more work for you and for me.
Here are our successes, so far:
MSSA’s flagship bill, SB 122, (Sen. Matt Rosendale, R-Glendive) to encourage the manufacture of ammunition components in Montana, a jobs bill, passed the Senate and has gone to the House. Because of the tax breaks in the bill, it has been assigned to the House Taxation Committee. That’s where this bill died last session, so we’ll need an extra push this session when the bill comes up for consideration by the House Tax Committee.
MSSA’s campus carry bill, SB 143, (Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings) has passed the Senate and been transmitted to the House and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
MSSA’s suppressors-for-hunting bill, SB 295, (Sen. Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell) has been passed by the Senate and transmitted to the House, and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
MSSA’s bill to prevent enforcement by Montana officials of any new federal firearms or magazine bans, HB 203, (Rep. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman) passed the House, is in the Senate, has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has been scheduled for a public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee for next Thursday, 3/5, at 9AM.
MSSA’s permitless carry bill, HB 298, (Rep. Bill Harris, R-Winnett) passed the House, has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is set for public hearing next Friday, 3/6, at 9AM.
MSSA’s Safe Travel to Work bill, HB 505, (Rep. Matthew Monforton, R-Bozeman) was seriously amended by the House Judiciary Committee and has passed the House and gone to the Senate.
Some bills are not subject to the usual, mid-session Transmittal deadline, especially appropriation bills and referenda. MSSA has one of each, and maybe another.
MSSA’s bill to prevent FWP from stealing money the Legislature appropriates for shooting range funding, HB 234, (Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton) is still pending before the House Appropriations Committee.
MSSA’s constitutional referendum bill, to remove the this-doesn’t-apply-to-concealed-weapons language from the 1884 RKBA in the Montana Constitution, HB 457, (Rep. Matthew Monforton, R-Bozeman) has been passed by the House Judiciary Committee and is awaiting Second Reading action on the floor of the House.
MSSA still has a bill draft in on a referendum for Sheriffs First, which we may rework and have introduced. Stay tuned for more about this.
MSSA’s bill to revitalize the Montana Home Guard, SB 130, (Sen. Roger Webb, R-Billings) was tabled by the Senate State Administration Committee.
MSSA’s Sheriffs First bill, HB 274, (Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton) was defeated on the floor of the House.
MSSA’s bill to rein in game wardens, HB 281, (Rep. Dale Mortensen, R-Billings) died on the floor of the House.
MSSA’s bill to clarify that schools are not mandated to expel for a year a student who forgets a hunting rifle in the student’s car in the school parking lot, HB 320, (Rep. Carl Glimm, R-Kila) died on the floor of the House.
MSSA’s bill to correct the idiotic law about "Prohibited Places", HB 371, (Rep. Kerry White, R-Bozeman) died on the floor of the House.
MSSA’s bill to correct a Montana Supreme Court mistake about an existing self defense law, HB 388, (Rep. Randy Pinocci, R-Great Falls) died on the floor of the House.
There have been a number of bad bills, either on the horizon or introduced, that MSSA has opposed.
Universal background checks, to make it illegal to transfer a firearm from one private individual to another without federal government permission and record, was drafted but not introduced. (Sen. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula)
Roll back all of MSSA’s 2009 self defense bill, was drafted but never introduced. (Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula)
To outlaw exploding targets on public lands, HB 160, (Rep. Willis Curdy, D-Missoula) was tabled by the House Judiciary Committee.
Require funnelling Montana mental health records into federal computers for RKBA denial, HB 530 (Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula) was tabled by the House Judiciary Committee.
Make it a crime to handle firearms carelessly, HB 539, (Rep. Willis Curdy, D-Missoula) is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee next Thursday, 3/5.
Other bills of interest
HB 212 (Rep. Kirk Wagoner, R-Montana City) would clarify that trapping is included within the right to harvest wild fish and game animals in the Montana Constitution. I testified in support of the bill, and that this had been my intent when I crafted the language for this constitutional referendum. HB 212 was passed by the House and approved by the Senate Fish and Game Committee.
HB 250 (Rep. Kirk Wagoner, R-Montana City) would clarify that it is legal to use suppressors to take unregulated animals in Montana, such as coyotes and Prairie Dogs. This bill is problematic, for two reasons: 1) it makes no change in current law because under current law suppressors are only prohibited for taking regulated wildlife, and 2) the governor could sign this bill and claim credit for signing a suppressor bill while vetoing MSSA’s suppressors-for-hunting bill, SB 295, which actually does something. HB 250 has passed the House and been approved by the Senate Fish and Game Committee.
HB 533 (Rep. Kirk Wagoner, R-Montana City) does some of what MSSA’s Permitless Carry bill does, and some of what MSSA’s Prohibited Places bill would have done, but not all of what either covers. HB 533 has passed the House.
That’s all for now. Thanks SO MUCH for your essential help to date. Now, we’ll need to really knuckle down to push the remaining bills through the process. I’ll keep you informed.
Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana