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

End of domestic smokeless powder?

Dear MSSA Friends,
The rumor is circulating that new federal regulations will put an end to domestic smokeless powder production in the U.S.
This is both true and not true.
The BATFE proposed a new regulation for the storage, transportation and documentation of “wetted nitrocellulose,” which is a precursor for manufacture of smokeless powder.  This proposed regulation would make compliance so difficult and expensive that it could cut off domestic production.
However, because of industry input about the possible consequences of this proposed regulation, the BATFE has decided to withdraw it for further consideration.  It could still happen, but for now it’s on hold.
One concern is that this proposal and Internet attention to it could spark a consumer run on smokeless powder and ammunition.  Demand for powder and ammo is still a couple of orders of magnitude (or more) more elastic than the supply side can accommodate.  So, this could create another run on finite supplies.
Those who follow MSSA legislative activity know that we got our Ammunition Availability Act passed into law in 2015.  The AAA was/is to encourage the manufacture of smokeless powder, small arms primers, and cartridge brass in Montana.  We launched this legislative effort mostly because there are only two producers of smokeless powder in the U.S. – all other smokeless we consume here is imported and subject to administrative control by the U.S. State Department.  We wanted to both encourage smokeless production in Montana, and to set a model for how that could be done in other states all across the U.S., to make our Right to Keep and Bear Arms less vulnerable to political interruption of powder supplies.
Stay tuned for more info about this …
Best wishes,
--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  Author, Gun Laws of Montana

News Release – Political Practices


(for immediate release, August 27, 2016)

MISSOULA – Montana’s primer advocate for gun owners has demanded answers
to critical questions from the political appointee currently enforcing
campaign laws in Montana. Gary Marbut, president of the Montana
Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) sent a letter
Friday to Jonathan Motl, the controversial Commissioner of Political
Practices (COPP), asking how the Commissioner could justify using wrong
facts in a Decision derogatory to MSSA.

Marbut says that Motl’s handling of a Complaint about MSSA showed bias
and impropriety from the beginning because Motl chose to not publish
Marbut’s April 14th Response
to the Complaint in the public space of the COPP Website, although Motl
did choose to publish both the Complaint and his Decision there. “This
one-sided use of public funds makes the Commissioner’s effort look like
a dedicated attempt to smear MSSA and me,” Marbut said. About Motl’s
publication of the Complaint but non-publication of Marbut’s Response,
Marbut’s letter asks, “Am I being treated fairly?”

In his August 16th Decision,
Motl claims that Marbut and/or MSSA violated public disclosure law when
a submitted form failed to include a list of candidates MSSA would
support in the 2014 Primary Election. However, the Decision also admits
that the required list was indeed submitted. (Finding of Fact No 14:)
“The Commissioner determines that the disclosure set out in FOF No. 14
meets the requirements of Montana law.” (Decision, Page 8) The problem,
it seems, is that COPP attached the MSSA-provided list to the wrong COPP
form when two forms and the list arrived in the same envelope at the
COPP office. This error by COPP, Motl claims, proves that MSSA broke
the law.

In his August 25th letter to Motl, Marbut asks if it wasn’t actually
COPP that “fell short of its responsibility to keep the public informed
by failing to attach the provided list of candidates to the correct COPP

Motl’s Decision also faults MSSA for not providing quarterly Federal
Election Commission (FEC) reports to COPP. Motl’s Decision states, “…
MSSA filed no copies of its federal PAC (Political Action Committee, GM)
reports with COPP.” (Decision, Page 4) Rebutting this factually
incorrect claim by COPP, Marbut offers evidence in his letter to Motl
that he sent 37 quarterly FEC reports (also publicly available from the
FEC Website), not just the four reports Motl wanted, to COPP by email
when asked for them by COPP. Marbut also offers to send Motl a copy of
the email in which COPP acknowledged receipt of this decade of FEC reports.

In the section of Marbut’s letter addressing this SNAFU by COPP, Marbut
asks, “Does this flaw cause COPP to have failed in its due diligence to
have properly investigated this matter before issuing its derogatory

In his letter, Marbut asks several other relevant questions about Motl’s
conduct, rationale, and conclusions in this matter.

Commissioner Motl has shown a history of feeding his side of a case to
the media, while those subject to his enforcement action suffer bad
publicity in legally advisable silence. In order to correct this unfair
advantage wielded by Motl, Marbut has chosen to go public with his
Response to the original Complaint (previously hidden from public view
by Motl) and with his related questions for Motl about the recent
Decision. Marbut says, “With fair, open, and equal public disclosure of
the false facts used by Motl to justify his Decision in this case, and
exposure of a biased process, let the public examine those facts and
make up their own minds.”

Marbut concluded, “The power inherent in government offices must not be
used in attempt to punish or silence political opposition. The people
will not allow that to become standard practice to be used by whatever
clique is currently in power.”

– 30 –

Information: Gary Marbut, 549-1252 or gary(AT)marbut(DOT)com

Original Complaint:

Response to Complaint:

COPP Decision:

Letter of questions about Decision:

Update re MSSA and Political Practices

Dear MSSA Friends,

You know that Jon Motl, the Commissioner of Political Practices, issued his Decision in Roberts v. MSSA, holding that the MSSA Political Committee violated Montana laws in two ways.

1.  That a required list of candidates affected was not provided to COPP, and

2.  That reports to the Federal Elections Commission were not provided.

Today I sent a comprehensive response to the Commissioner’s Decision, questioning much in that Decision.  Because the Commissioner fails to post my comments on this case on his Website, I have posted today’s letter to him here:

You may remember that my April official Response to the initial Complaint is posted here:

It will be interesting to see what Commissioner Motl does in response to my letter today.  Will he revise his Decision, or will he try to bull through with false facts?

It seems as if he wants to give MSSA a black eye, or to intimidate MSSA into staying out of the political process.  After reading today’s letter, do you think either will work?

Stay tuned …

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