Attorney General Opinion, Missoula Ordinance

Dear MSSA Friends,

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has released the requested Opinion about the enforceability of the Missoula ordinance requiring government background checks for private transfers of firearms.  You can access this AG Op here:

As expected, this AG Opinion declares the Missoula ordinance to be in conflict with controlling state law, and to be unenforceable.

Addressing the Missoula ordinance this way, and putting the wheels in motion for this AG Opinion, was something MSSA initiated over a year ago.  We’re glad this planting finally bore the expected fruit.  This is yet another example of what MSSA does for Montana gun owners.  For more examples, see:

If you are not already an MSSA member, you should really join to be a part of our longstanding success.  MSSA membership information is available at:

Best wishes,

--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  Author, Gun Laws of Montana

Four bills up on Tuesday, 1/24

Dear MSSA Friends,

There are four “gun bills” up before the House Judiciary Committee next Tuesday, 1/24, for public hearing.  While none of these bills are on the official MSSA legislative agenda, MSSA supports all four and urges your support as well.  These bills are:

HB 262 – Permitless Carry – Rep. Bill Harris. Since 1991, a concealed weapon permit (CWP) has not been required for a law-abiding person to carry a concealed weapon in 99.4% of Montana – outside the limits of cities or towns.  With over two decades of experience that not requiring CWPs for nearly all of Montana has not created any problems, this bill will harmonize the law so a permit will no longer be required for a law abiding person to carry a concealed weapon in the remaining 6/10ths of 1% of Montana, inside cities and towns.  This bill would leave the permitting process in place, so citizens who desire them may still obtain CWPs for travel to other states that recognize Montana CWPs, and for firearm purchases at gun stores under the federal Brady Law.  This change would exclude criminals from applicability – it would still be illegal for criminals to carry concealed weapons.  Another way to explain this is that if a law abiding person were wearing a firearm, this bill would make it legal to put on a coat inside city limits without a government permit to dress for cold or wet weather.  This bill was carried last session by Rep. Harris and passed House and Senate, but was vetoed by Governor Bullock.

HB 246 – Firearms in Post Offices – Rep. Randy Brodehl.  This bill would prohibit enforcement by state and local officers of federal laws making it a crime to have a firearm in a vehicle in a U.S. Post Office parking lot, or inside a Post Office building.

HB 273 – CWPs and legal immigrants – Rep. Barry Usher.  Current law requires that only U.S. citizens may apply for a Montana CWP.  This restriction has been stricken by federal courts in other states as a violation of  “equal protection” (of the laws) for legal immigrants, who are deemed to have rights protected by the Constitution.  This bill will cause Montana law to conform to the equal protection requirements of federal courts.

HB 251 – Exclude various concealed weapons  – Rep. Kirk Wagoner.  This bill would exclude from concealed weapons laws a variety of weapons listed there, including a dirk, dagger, pistol, revolver, slingshot, sword cane, billy, knuckles made of any metal or hard substance, knife having a blade 4 inches long or longer, and razor.  It would leave subject to concealed weapons laws only handguns.  This bill would simplify existing law.

If you are not familiar with how to support or weigh in on bills, please visit or revisit:

I’ve explained it all to you there.

Thanks for your help with these bills.  MSSA agenda bills will be coming soon.

Best wishes,

--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  Author, Gun Laws of Montana

Setting the Record Straight – Gianforte/Bullock

Setting the Record Straight – Gianforte/Bullock
Dear MSSA Friends,
I just heard an ad on the radio by green decoy group Montana Conservation Voters.  This is a group philosophically aligned with the Montana Democrat Party that pops up every election cycle to try to fool gun owners and hunters into believing whatever blather this decoy group is currently offering, and generate cover for anti-gun political candidates.  Otherwise, this group has no known activity in Montana.  As far as I know, the group doesn’t “conserve” anything (except anti-gun and anti-hunting candidates).
The ad I heard was an attack on Greg Gianforte, the MSSA-endorsed candidate for Governor.  I don’t have time to cover it all, and you probably don’t have the patience to hear it all, but let me hit just three high points.
The ad refers to Gianforte as a “New Jersey billionaire.”  Well, it’s true that Gianforte did live in New Jersey for a couple of years, and that he did sell his company for over a billion dollars.  Gianforte lived in New Jersey for a couple of years, before he and wife Susan moved to California, which was before they settled in Montana 40 years ago to take up Montana ways and raise their children here.  So, Gianforce is a Montanan by choice, not by accident of birth as Bullock is.  And, Gianforte made his billion HERE IN MONTANA, not in New Jersey.  And, Gianforte made his money the old-fashion way, by starting a business in his garage and spending long, hard-working days, months and years nurturing that business into a tremendous success, ALL HERE IN MONTANA.  In accusing Gianforte of being a “New Jersey billionaire,” they conveniently fail to mention that the last place Bullock lived before he came back to Montana to run for Attorney General, I hear, was in Washington, D.C.  So, we might ask as well, do we want a professional politician from Washington running Montana?
The ad speaks of Gianforte’s “mansion” near Bozeman, trying to trigger what economist Gary North calls the “politics of envy.”  When MSSA volunteer Elisa was doing her recent MSSA membership tour of Montana (thanks Elisa), she stayed for a couple of days with the Gianfortes.  She called me about the Gianforte home.  Elisa was surprised and told me, “Gary, this place isn’t a ‘mansion.’  It’s just a house.  They keep it nicely, but it’s just an average house.”  I told her that first-generation money people (the people who earned it the hard way) tend to be frugal and not ostentatious.
The ad accuses Gianforte of suing the people of Montana to exclude them from his property.  Well, this too is a considerable exaggeration.  There was a question about the title to some of the property where the Gianfortes live.  Gianforte could not get that resolved without a judge’s signature on the resolution document.  Judges don’t just sign things without people going through some sort of formal process.  In the case of land title questions, that process in law is called a “quiet title” action.  It must be filed in court and all interested parties must be afforded an opportunity to be heard on the matter.  That’s what Gianforte did, something thousands of Montana landowners have also done to resolve title questions.  Excluding people was never the object.  Heck, Gianforte has always allowed, even invited, fishermen to access the adjacent river via his property.  There was never any discussion of excluding people until Bullock or his supporters latched onto this to try to make it sound like something it wasn’t.
Well, now you know the “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say.  Thanks for letting me vent about this.
The election for Governor will probably be close, so please make sure ALL of your friends have voted, and remember the truths above about MSSA-endorsed Greg Gianforte.
Best wishes,


Gary Marbut, President

Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana


DoJ emails surfacing – “Smoking gun”?

News Release
(for immediate release, November 5, 2016)

Attorney General Bullock’s Deleted Emails Now Beginning to Surface

Gun Rights Group Finds “Smoking Gun” that Contradicts Bullock Deleted Email Claims

MISSOULA, Mont. – A story in the Washington Free Beacon about the missing emails from when Governor Bullock was the Montana Attorney General says that it cannot be proven that the deleted emails were business-related because those deleted emails are simply no longer available to examine.  Despite that claim, relevant emails are beginning to surface, just as the thousands of emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private server have surfaced.

In 2011, while Bullock was Attorney General, the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) had litigation in process to validate the Montana Firearms Freedom Act in federal courts.  Montana, represented by the Montana Department of Justice (MtDoJ), became an intervenor in that case, MSSA v. Holder.  MSSA has archived email exchanges with senior staff at MtDoJ concerning that case, which was clearly official business for MtDoJ to participate in defending a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.  MSSA is making these deleted-by-DoJ emails public.

This first trickle of emails is likely the beginning of a flood of MtDoJ emails that may surface from when Bullock was Attorney General, emails that some authorities assert must by law be preserved for public inspection under the right to know in the Montana Constitution.

MSSA President Gary Marbut commented, “We need a serious dose of sunshine and integrity in government.  The people should no longer tolerate any burning of records or wholesale deletion of emails in order to destroy possible evidence of backroom or illegal deals.  There is a good reason why the people have put the open records requirement into the Montana Constitution.  Destruction of public records is simply unacceptable.”

Many national observers have been stunned by the wholesale deletion of emails from the Clinton private server, emails which are now becoming public because of Wikileaks and the FBI investigation.

Marbut continued, “Although the original claim was that these emails were only a few about yoga lessons, recovered emails paint a far different picture, vivid picture of corruption, complicity, cronyism, and compromise of national security.  We don’t want that happening here in Montana.”

 – 30 –

Contact:  Gary Marbut – 406-549-1252;
DoJ emails:


Gary Marbut, President

Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana


Gun Rights Policy Conference LIVE VIDEO Feed, Sept 24-25

The Second Amendment Foundation’s 31st Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) will be live streamed on Sept. 24-25, 2016.

Come meet national gun rights leaders and your fellow grassroots activists at the 31st Annual Gun Rights Policy Conference. Get an insider look at pro-gun rights strategies for the coming year. This year we’ll take a look at critical issues such as: city gun bans, “smart” guns, concealed carry, federal legislation, legal actions, gun show regulation and state and local activity.

Read More and Watch the Conference LIVE at AmmoLand

Bullock lied


Bullock Lied to Montana Voters and the Media
Bullock’s Statement about Second Amendment Support is Flat Wrong
(for immediate release, September 20, 2016)

MISSOULA – In the Billings debate between challenger Greg Gianforte and Governor Steve Bullock, the candidates were asked a question about their support for the right to keep and bear arms.  In his response, Governor Bullock claimed, “I’ve worked with the Legislature to make sure that you can protect your home and your property by passing the castle doctrine.”

Gary Marbut, author of Gun Laws of Montana commented, “Bullock’s statement is flat wrong.  Montana’s castle doctrine law, ‘Defense of an occupied structure,’ has been on the Montana law books since the Bannack Statutes of Montana territorial days, about 1865.  That existing law was most recently clarified in 2009 in a bill signed by Governor Schweitzer, before Bullock was Governor.”

“It’s pretty sleazy,” Marbut continued, “for Bullock to claim credit for a law that was enacted just after the Civil War, long before he was born.  That sure makes a person wonder about his answers to other questions posed by panelists during the debate, such as the one ‘Have you ever been involved in an extra-marital affair?’ “

When introducing his position on the right to keep and bear arms, Bullock said, “In Montana we use our guns for both self protection and for our public lands.”

About this comment, Marbut asked, “Just how do Montanans use guns for public lands?  How much further could Bullock be out of touch with the tens of thousands of Montana gun owners who use firearms for recreation, competitive shooting, collecting, predator control, and other legitimate uses?”

Marbut noted a Democrat from Bozeman running for Congress who pointed out that every political aspirant in Montana must claim to support the Second Amendment.  To do otherwise would be political suicide.  “Bullock’s multiple vetoes of pro-gun bills passed by the Legislature and his false claim of credit for a law enacted before his parents were born paint an accurate picture of Bullock’s true disrespect for the right to keep and bear arms,” Marbut said.

Marbut is also President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, the primary political advocate for Montana gun owners.  MSSA has endorsed challenger Greg Gianforte in his bid to replace Bullock as Governor, because Gianforte has pledged to sign the bills that Bullock has vetoed.  The National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America have also endorsed Gianforte.

 – 30 –

Information:  Gary Marbut; 406-549-1252,

--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  Author, Gun Laws of Montana

General Election Grades and Endorsements

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s 2016 Candidate Grades and Endorsements are now posted at:

Please redistribute this as widely as possible. Check this list for
your legislative candidates. Contact the endorsed candidates in your
area and let them know they’ve been endorsed (I can’t inform them
directly), and ask what you can do to help their campaign.

Our strength in getting pro-gun bills through the 2017 Legislature
depends on getting good, pro-gun candidates elected to legislative
seats. The candidates MSSA has endorsed deserve your support. IT IS UP

The same is true for Montana Governor candidate Greg Gianforte. He is
truly a good guy, and if elected he will sign the good bills that his
opponent has vetoed.

Get busy, get active, and spread the word! MSSA can do this background
work for you and give you good information, but it is up to you to put
that information to work.

Best wishes,

Comment re no-shooting FS closure near Bozeman

Dear MSSA Friends,

Below is my comment to the Gallatin Forest about their proposal to close a large chunk of public land to shooting.  See the closure area map at:

If you wish to comment also, an easy way to do so is to just say you concur with the MSSA position.  Email your comment to:

The Subject should be:  Hyalite Shooting Restrictions


Dear Gallatin Forest,

To aid you in assessing this comment, first allow me to introduce myself.

I am accepted in state and federal courts as an expert concerning firearm safety, use of force, shooting ranges, and more.  I am the president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, the primary political advocate for gun owners in Montana.  In that capacity, I am the original author of the Montana Shooting Range Protection Act, and of the Montana Shooting Range Development Act.  I was invited to attend and was an active participant in the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy in Reno, Nevada, on October 1–3, 2008, one finding of which was that federal public land managers should do more to promote and allow recreational shooting on public lands (see the Conference report).  I am a lifetime hunter and also shoot competitively in the discipline of long range precision rifle.  I have aided and advised many Montana communities concerning provision of safe and suitable places for people to shoot.

A.  Background

About the Hyalite Canyon issue, a number of things are given.

1.  Among public land users there will be responsible users and irresponsible users.  Hikers will include those who drop their litter along trails.  While it is understandable to dislike littering (I do), it is also not very smart to ban hiking just because a few hikers litter.  The more acceptable response is education and peer pressure for culture change.

2.  Montana has a high incidence of firearm ownership and use.  MSSA estimates that more than 90% of the homes in Montana contain firearms, usually multiple firearms.  While the Bozeman area might fall below that 90%, the incidence of firearms ownership will still be high.  Montana has the highest percentage of its population purchasing hunting licenses of any state.  Montana has active shooting in all usual shooting disciplines.  Our common culture of firearms ownership and use in Montana is not going to change any time soon.

3.  In my experience, all communities that have problems with unsafe recreational shooting have that problem primarily because the community is underserved by safe and suitable places for people to shoot.  Communities that have developed safe and suitable places for people to shoot have dramatically reduced land use conflicts from unsafe shooting.

4.  All public lands use has the potential to create use conflicts.  Horseback riders will see conflict with mountain bikers.  Fly fishermen see conflict with river floaters.  Hikers see conflict with motorized trail riders.  The usual way such conflicts are managed is not to ban them, but to direct them to suitable locations.

5.  The conflicts in the Hyalite Canyon will be both imagined and actual.  Certainly, perceived danger from shooting can be imaginary.  Some people may hear a distant gunshot and fear for their lives.  I have heard tens of thousands of gunshots close by at shooting events and have never been fearful for my safety.  Actual danger depends on more than someone’s perception of danger.

6.  In my experience, most of the trash (not all of it, but most) attributed to irresponsible target shooters is actually trash dumped by others, and only used as a target of opportunity by target shooters.  For example, it is unusual for there to be bullet holes in a broken washing machine dumped illegally in a vacant city lot.  People with firearms don’t usually haul appliances out to the forest to shoot at them.  People do dump appliances in the forest to avoid landfill fees.  When trash is left in the forest, it does make an attractive target, causing some people who may not do well with logic to assume without other evidence that it was the shooter who dumped the trash.  Think of the easy assumption some people might make seeing a trashy neighborhood in Chicago, Detroit, or Atlanta that is populated by Black people and jumping to the conclusion that Black people create trashy neighborhoods.  Correlation does not equal causation.  That all murderers drink water doesn’t mean that water causes murder.  Because trash found has rain on it doesn’t prove that it fell from the sky.  Because some trash has holes in it doesn’t prove it was dumped by target shooters.

B.  Questions

1.  The proposal to prohibit target shooting in the Hyalite Canyon must also contemplate some enforcement.  What is the authority for any such enforcement?  Specifically, what federal statute allows for that enforcement, and what specific language within that law allows for such enforcement?  Also, what federal regulation allows Gallatin National Forest to enforce such a proposal, and what specific language within the regulation is being relied upon?

2.  What has Gallatin National Forest actually done to provide a safe and suitable place for people to shoot in the Hyalite Canyon?  Has the GNF identified any particular terrain that can accommodate safe shooting?  Has the GNF applied any signage directing shooting to any such area?  What other attempts has GNF made to educate the public and direct the public to such safe and suitable area(s)?  What meetings has GNF had with Gallatin County authorities about developing safe and suitable places for people to shoot?

3.  What contact has GNF had with existing shooting facilities in Gallatin County in attempt to redirect shooting in the Hyalite Canyon to established safe shooting facilities in Gallatin County?

4.  If existing recreational users of Hyalite Canyon next complain about shooting for hunting in the Canyon, will the GNF consider closing these public lands to hunting as well?

5.  What is the evidence that target shooters actually produce the majority of the trash that accumulates in the Hyalite Canyon and that appears to be used to justify the proposed rule?

6.  Who are the persons assigned to conduct the environmental analysis, and from what entities or sources is this analysis taking input?  Will this analysis consider the cultural and economic impact of the proposed rules?

C.  Recommendations

1.  Seek and offer proof before implying or accusing that target shooters created a trash problem in the Hyalite Canyon.

2.  Engage with people who have expertise in safe shooting to help identify terrain in the Hyalite Canyon where target shooting can be directed.

3.  Erect signage to direct target shooters to designated safe shooting locations and other public land users away from any such location.

4.  Work with Gallatin county authorities to determine the need for and plans for additional safe shooting facilities to serve the community.

5.  Recruit citizen volunteers and groups to promote safe shooting standards.

6.  Conduct outreach and educational efforts to publicize safe shooting standards.

7.  Educate other Hyalite Canyon users to be tolerant of target shooting done under conditions that doesn’t create actual risk.

8.  Withdraw any effort at closing public land to shooting until these goals are met.

Please answer the questions posed here by email to me at  Thank you.


--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  Author, Gun Laws of Montana