Thursday, 2/26, 8:35PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

Two days ago, MSSA’s schools bill stalled on Third Reading (after having passed Second Reading previously) in the House on a 50-50 vote.  It would have passed then, except one legislator admitted afterwards to having pushed the wrong button on the vote.  Dang!

So, yesterday HB 320 was rescued with a Motion to Reconsider that got a 52-48 vote and put it back on to Third Reading today.

Today on Third Reading, HB 320 stalled yet again on a 50-50 vote.  One Rep. switched sides since the Motion to Reconsider yesterday, and ANOTHER legislators now admits to having pushed the wrong button on today’s vote.

Double dang. Plus.

Tomorrow (Friday) is the last day before "Transmittal," the mid-session date when all regular bills must have moved fro House to Senate, or from Senate to House, or they die for good.

There is a slim chance that there will be yet another Motion to Reconsider AND another Third Reading vote on HB 320 tomorrow.  That is being explored and the skids being greased to the limited extent they may be at this late hour.

Don’t hold your breath, but stay tuned …

Next week, beginning March 2nd, is our official week to celebrate our Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Montana.  Here’s the law currently on the books that establishes that:

         1-1-224.  Observance of right to keep and bear arms. The week beginning the first Monday in March is an official week of observance to commemorate Montana’s valued heritage of the right of each person to keep and bear arms in the defense of his home, person, or property or in aid of civil power. During this week, all Montanans are urged to reflect on their right to keep and bear arms and to celebrate this right in lawful ways.

Here’s a maybe interesting story for you about how that law came to be:  In 1991 I was in the Capitol lobbying (successfully, it turned out) for Montana’s shall-issue CWP law.  Democrats controlled the House and Senate by slim margins.  There was fierce and bitter debate going on about whether or not the Legislature should pass a bill to make Martin Luther King Day a state holiday in Montana.  Democrats wanted it but Republicans, barely in the minority, did not.

I had trouble getting any legislators to talk about our CWP bill because they were so wrapped up in the MLK Day debate and acrimony.  Legislator tempers were hot.  I was frustrated that I couldn’t get any attention over what I thought was a very important issue.

It occurred to me that if we could have a day in Montana to celebrate MLK, we should probably have a week to celebrate the RKBA, and another week to celebrate our heritage and culture of hunting.  So, I sat down in the Capitol hallway and drafted two bills, one for an RKBA week in early March, and one for a hunting heritage week in late September.  I handed these two, handwritten bill drafts off to a sympathetic legislator, a committee had both bills drafted, and both bills flew through the Legislature and were signed into law.  Democrats were willing to throw this bone to Republicans, and Republicans were able to regain, with these two bills, some perceived political ground lost over MLK Day.

So, make plans to celebrate RKBA week however you will all of next week and the following weekend.  Write a letter to the editor.  Burn some powder.  Gather with like-minded friends.  And, don’t forget the MSSA Annual Meeting on Sunday, 3/7, at the Montana Historical Society building in Helena beginning at 10 AM.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana

By mssa