MSSA Annual Meeting, 3/7 – money

February 22, 2:50PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s Annual Meeting, per its Bylaws, will be held in Helena on the first Saturday in March, this year March 7th, beginning at 10AM in the "Auditorium" of the Montana Historical Society building, just across the street and to the east of the State Capitol building.  We will take a lunch break from Noon to 1:30 PM, and try to be done by 4PM.  This is MSSA’s only physical meeting during the year.

Money.  MSSA has been spending a lot for our legislative effort.  We need to keep our treasury up to sustain our effort through the end of the legislative session.  If you are not a member of MSSA now, please join.  There is MSSA membership information on the MSSA Website (linked below).

If you are struggling to get by like so many are, don’t worry about this.  We’ll get through it.

However, if you’re doing well, please consider making a donation to MSSA, or becoming a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Sponsor, or becoming some form of MSSA Life Member.  Again, see the membership page on our Website.

The product MSSA has to sell is success.  MSSA is recognized nationally as by far the most successful such state-level, pro-gun entity in the US (which also means in the World, since they don’t do this elsewhere).  MSSA has now gotten 64 pro-gun bills through the Legislature and enacted into law, probably more than twice as many as the next best pro-gun entity in the US.  We do great work for you.  We think we deserve your support.  Even though the product we have to sell is intangible, it’s still valuable.

Thanks loads for your support.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Update – 2/21/15

Saturday, February 21, 11:52AM

Dear MSSA Friends,

Today there was no Motion to Reconsider the failing 50-50 vote on HB 371 (Prohibited Places) from yesterday.  I haven’t yet heard why the reconsideration didn’t happen, but I assume that proponents just couldn’t round up the votes necessary to make it happen.  Legislators are under a crushing workload and running out of patience, including with other legislators wanting to bring up issues already voted on.  I suspect it is because of that impatience and workload that the Motion to Reconsider HB 371 didn’t happen.  HB 371 is now dead.

HB 320, MSSA’s bill to clarify that schools are not mandated to expel from school a kid who forgot to take a hunting rifle out of a vehicle before parking in the school parking lot, has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and will advance to Second Reading before the full House, probably Monday or Tuesday.  Get messages in to House members to support HB 320.

HB 281, MSSA’s bill to rein in game wardens and require that they comply with all the laws that deputy sheriffs comply with for arrest, search and seizure, has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and will advance to Second Reading before the full House, probably Monday or Tuesday.  Get messages in to House members to support HB 281.

Please contact these Representatives via the Message Center, 444-4800, or the Online Message Form at:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp#email

Thanks for your ongoing help.

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

FLASH – HB 371, Prohibited Places

February 20, 2:00PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s bill, HB 371, to cure restrictions on "Prohibited Places," where a person may not exercise a CWP, stalled today on the House Floor on a 50-50 vote (it needs at least 51 votes out of 100 to pass).

All Democrats voted against HB 371, plus eight Republicans:
Christie Clark
Rob Cook
Geraldine Custer
Steve Fitzpatrick
Kelly Flynn
Daniel Salomon
Ray Shaw
Jeffrey Welborn

If we pull out the stops and engage all of these eight Representatives with messages asking them to support HB 371, we might be able to recover HB 371 tomorrow with a Motion to Reconsider, but ONLY if all of you get with the program and get messages to these legislators.

You might mention that HB 371 only applies to sheriff-certified good people who have taken training and had a background check to obtain a concealed weapon permit.  You might mention that current law allows unlicensed people to carry openly in these places.  You could mention that current law does not exempt police, so if a police officer enters a police station (public building) with a coat on, he or she becomes a lawbreaker.  You could mention that CWP-holders have the lowest rate of criminality or misadventure with firearms of any demographic group, including police and legislators – they are worthy of trust.

Please contact these Representatives via the Message Center, 444-4800, or the Online Message Form at:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp#email

These Representative must get their message to support HB 371 by 8AM tomorrow (Saturday).  Be brief.  Be firm.  Be polite.

Thanks loads!!!

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

HB 457 – constitutional referendum RKBA

Dear MSSA Friends,

I’m setting this message to send on 2/17, at 10 AM.  By then I should be done testifying in favor of HB 457 before the House Judiciary Committee.  I don’t want to give away in advance what my testimony will be.  I want it to be a surprise to HB 457 opponents.  But, I want you to know ASAP so you can follow up with requests that committee members ALL support HB 457.

So, what’s HB 457?  The RKBA in the Montana Constitution is at Article II, Section 12.  It is a good statement of the RKBA for Montana, EXCEPT that it concludes with these words, ", but nothing herein contained shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons."

This archaic language was first incorporated into the Montana Territorial Constitution of 1884.  It was repeated in the Montana Statehood Constitution of 1889, and in the rewrite of the Montana Constitution of 1972.  This language is a reflection of the culture in 1884, when it was presumed that people who wore concealed firearms were undesirables.

So, what will I tell the Committee?  I will say that this is a cultural dress code issue, just like the recent yoga pants and speedo bill the Committee killed, but in this case it is to remove an antiquated dress code issue from the law, not to add a new one.  This bill is about whether a person needs government permission to wear a coat, something often necessary in Montana.

And, I will say, Montana culture has changed a LOT since 1884 and 1889. I will tell Committee members that in 1889 there were only 11 counties in Montana, women couldn’t vote, and the State Senate was called the "Legislative Council."  I will tell the Committee that the following laws were in place in 1889:  Mandatory separate schools for children of African descent; abortion to be punished as murder; "Crimes Against Nature" (homosexuality) punished with up to life in prison; sale of firearms to Indians was prohibited; and a married woman could not convey property without her husband’s consent.

I will say that in our 2015 culture, law abiding people prefer to carry firearms concealed, both to avoid upsetting others, and to provide a tactical advantage in case of attack.  This is now the cultural norm.

I will tell the Committee that if yoga pants and speedos in public had been presented to the people of 1889, they would have banned those, for certain, just as a recent bill attempted to do.  I will say that the Legislature should offer the people of Montana a chance to vote on a constitutional change to repeal another simple dress code issue still lingering in law from 1884.

Friends, to get this constitutional change onto the ballot, we will need to get 100 favorable votes on HB 457 out of the 150 members of the Senate and House.  That means we will need a bunch of Democrats to vote for the bill.  And, THAT’S why we will need to frame it in terms with which Democrats are likely to resonate.

I will also tell Committee members that this change won’t have much impact on the street, because Montana already has pretty liberal concealed weapon laws, and we’ve already asked this Committee to liberalize existing laws with out Permitless Carry bill.  I will say that this is mostly about curing an antiquated dress code problem in Montana law, and about making the Montana Constitution culturally appropriate for this century.

I hope this explanation helps you frame messages to Committee members, maybe about the "Yoga Coat Bill."

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Three more bill hearings

February 16, 6:25 PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

Two MSSA bills have been scheduled for public hearings.

HB 203, which passed the House, MSSA’s bill to prevent state and local employees from enforcing any new federal gun and magazine bans, Is scheduled for its public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, February 23.  Along about next weekend, you will need to get messages to members of the SJC to please support HB 203.  I’ll remind you.

HB 505, MSSA’s safe travel to work bill, is scheduled for its public hearing on Wednesday, February 18th, before the House Judiciary Committee, on the same day as MSSA’s HB 457 (RKBA referendum).  NOW is time to get messages to HJC members to please support both HB 505 and HB 547.

A bad bill has been introduced, HB 539, to create the crime of careless firearm handling in a public place.  This bill is reputed to have arisen because of unenforced range rules at a shooting range located on property owned by the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  The bill fails to define what constitutes careless firearm handling, or what a public place is.  It would make a law subject to infinite abuse by whoever the enforcers might be (also unexplained).  This bill is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, and a hearing date has been set for March 5th.  I’ll remind you again to get messages to HJC members shortly before the hearing.

If you can come to Helena to support these bills, that will be outstanding.  If so, please review my advice for testifying before a committee at:
http://progunleaders.org/Legislative%20Process/hearing.html

If you can’t get to Helena to support these bills, please contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee or House Judiciary Committee via the Message Center, 444-4800, or the Online Message Form at:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp#email

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Several bills moved

February 16, 2:07PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

The House Judiciary Committee took executive action on and approved of MSSA’s bills this morning.  These bills will now move along to the House floor for Second Reading consideration by the whole House.  The bills passed by the HJC include:

Permitless Carry, HB 298.
Prohibited Places, HB 371
Fix Montana Supreme Court mistake, HB 388

Please get messages to your Representative (not Senator) asking him or her to support these three bills when they come to the House floor.

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Correction – wrong dates SB 295 and HB 457

Dear MSSA Friends,

Sorry, but I gave you the wrong dates for the public hearings on SB 295 (suppressors) and HB 457 (RKBA).

These public hearings will be on TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, not Monday and Tuesday.

I plead too many balls in the air, or too many birthdays, or something.

SB 295, to eliminate the prohibition on suppressors for hunting, will be heard before the Senate Fish and Game Committee at 3 PM in Room 422 of the Capitol on Tuesday, 2/17.

HB 457, for a constitutional referendum to remove archaic language from the RKBA in the Montana Constitution, will be heard before the House Judiciary Committee in Capitol Room 137 at 8 AM on Wednesday, 2/18.

If you can come to Helena to support these bills, that will be outstanding.  If so, please review my advice for testifying before a committee at:
http://progunleaders.org/Legislative%20Process/hearing.html

If you can’t get to Helena to support these bills, please contact Senate Fish and Game committee members or members of the House Judiciary Committee via the Message Center, 444-4800, or the Online Message Form at:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp#email

Ask Committee members to please support these bills.  You can send a message about one bill to ALL Committee members with one click.

Thanks loads for your ongoing help.  YOUR PARTICIPATION IS CRITICAL!

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Last MSSA bill introduced – Safe Travel to Work

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s last (I think) bill has been introduced as HB 505, a bill to exempt employers from liability IF they have or enforce no policy against firearms locked in employee’s vehicles in the employer’s parking lot and if one of those firearms should, against policy, be taken from the employee’s vehicle and used to injure someone in the workplace.  HB 505 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee – no public hearing date set, yet.

Previous versions of this bill have tried to accomplish more, but we decided to scale it back some so we’d have a chance of getting it through the Legislature and approved by the Governor.  This bill, if enacted, will cure the primary objection employers raise to firearms in employees’ vehicles.

Our concern is that employees who may need the tool for self defense while traveling to and from work are denied that ability by employers’ employment policies of no guns allowed in a private vehicle in the employers’ parking lot.  Employers certainly are not willing to be responsible for the safety of employees traveling to and from work, so employees should be allowed to provide for their own safety, not stripped of that ability.  Think of a nurse who gets off work at a hospital just before midnight and must travel alone through a dark town to get home.  Who is responsible if she has a flat tire and gets raped on the roadside with no ability to defend herself?

There is one more bill to be introduced that MSSA will support for sure (although not an "MSSA" bill), and several lurking around the corner that could be introduced that MSSA would oppose vigorously if they should be introduced.  We’re watching for those.  Stay tuned …

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

FLASH – SB 122 passes Senate Second Reading

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s flagship bill to encourage the manufacture of ammunition components in Montana has passed the Senate on Second Reading by a vote of 28-22.  I expect this vote to hold on Monday on Third Reading, and for this important bill to move on to the House for consideration there.

This 28-22 was pretty much a party line vote, although Democrat Senator Bradley Hamlett voted for it and Republican Senators Rick Ripley and Bruce Tutvedt voted against it.

Thanks ever so much for your help on this important bill!!!!!!!!!!

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Report: Bill hearings last three days

Dear MSSA Friends,

I’ve attended and testified at public hearings for six bills before legislative committees in Helena over the last three days.  Here’s a brief report on those bills with suggested followup by you.

Tuesday
HB 212 before Senate Fish and Game. HB 212 would clarify by law that the right to "harvest wild fish and game animals" in the Montana Constitution includes trapping, as well as hunting and fishing.  I told the committee that I, personally, had selected those words and crafted that language for the constitutional referendum MSSA pressed in about 2003 to secure that general right in the Montana Constitution.  And, I told the Committee, I specifically selected that verbiage to include trapping within the umbrella of the protected right.  The opposition was almost entirely anti-trapping people, the same ones who have twice tried to run a statutory initiative to create a law that would ban trapping on public land.

Wednesday
HB 320, before the House Judiciary Committee, would clarify that school boards may, BUT ARE NOT REQUIRED TO, expel for one year a student who forgets to take a hunting rifle, shotgun or other firearm out of the student’s vehicle before parking in the school parking lot.  Over 450 Montana kids have had their educational futures derailed because administrators mistakenly told school boards that they had no choice under federal law but to expel such kids for a full year.    The Committee will likely take executive action on HB 320 tomorrow (Friday), so it’s not too late to get messages to Committee members asking them to support this bill.

HB 298, before House Judiciary Committee, is MSSA’s "Permitless Carry" bill, which would make concealed carry legal inside city limits without a permit, as long as the carrier is eligible under law to possess firearms.  The Committee will likely take executive action on HB 298 tomorrow (Friday), so it’s not too late to get messages to Committee members asking them to support this bill.

HB 371, before the House Judiciary Committee, is MSSA’s bill to fix the Montana "Prohibited Places" law at 45-8-328.  This law makes it illegal to exercise a CWP in a bar, bank, or public building (although this misconceived law doesn’t prohibit open carry in those places).  HB 371 would open up all of these places, except genuine bars but including restaurants, to concealed carry by CWP-holders.  The Committee will likely take executive action on HB 371 tomorrow (Friday), so it’s not too late to get messages to Committee members asking them to support this bill.

If both HB 298 and 371 pass, any lawful gun owner could carry concealed inside city limits without a permit, just like outside city limits for the last 24 years, but CWP-holders would have the extra privilege of being able to carry in "Prohibited Places."

Thursday
HB 388, before the House Judiciary Committee, is MSSA’s bill to correct a misunderstanding by the Montana Supreme Court.  The Court said in a decision that it didn’t understand what the Legislature intended with MSSA’s 2009 bill that required investigators, in any situation where self defense is apparent or alleged, to conduct an investigation so as to disclose all evidence, including evidence that could exonerate a self-defender accused of a crime.  HB 388 clarifies the language of the existing statute so even the Montana Supreme Court can’t misunderstand legislative intent.  The Committee will likely take executive action on HB 388 on Monday, so it’s not too late to get messages to Committee members asking them to support this bill.

HB 281, before the House Judiciary Committee, would require game wardens to comply with all the requirements for arrest, search, and seizure that deputy sheriffs are required under law to comply with.  It would also establish an affirmative defense of "trivial mistake" for violation of fish and game laws that hopefully will reduce the plethora of citations game wardens tend to write for some honest-intentioned person who is accused of failing to dot some "I" while hunting or fishing.  The Committee will likely take executive action on HB 281 on Monday, so it’s not too late to get messages to Committee members asking them to support this bill.

When beginning this email, I intended to list the primary opponents to each bill.  That’s too tedious, but there is a common denominator.  All major opponents to all of these bills were representing government institutions:  The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, the Montana County Attorneys Association, the Montana Police Protective Association, the Montana Game Wardens Association, the Montana School Administrators Association, and other groups representing government employees.  When MSSA attempts to expand liberty, or to rein in government, government institutions turn out big time in attempt to thwart MSSA, always.

That’s enough.  I need to get to work on some proposed amendments for HB 320.  The school establishment may even support this bill if I can get the amendments tweaked right so as to satisfy their concerns without giving up important points.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com