(for immediate release – March 13, 2015)

Northwestern Energy Turns Against the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Northwestern Energy, a company usually concerned only with efficient delivery of electricity and natural gas in Montana, took the bold step today to also become an active opponent of the right to keep and bear arms in Montana.

In a dramatic departure from usual corporate practice, Northwestern took a strong stance against House Bill 598, the Gun Owners Access to Justice Act, in a public hearing before the Montana House Judiciary Committee today.  Since the purpose HB 598 is to create a referendum on this issue for a vote by Montana citizens, Northwestern is also against allowing Montana people to vote on this important issue.

During the hearing on HB 598, the lobbyist representing Northwestern actually took the committee microphone five different times to reiterate Northwestern’s total opposition to the bill.

Also speaking in opposition to HB 598 was a representative of Moms Demand Action, a national group founded and funded by billionaire and anti-gun former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  This concurrence and Northwestern’s dramatic departure from its former policy of lobbying only about energy bills raises the question of whether billionaire Bloomberg may have financial ties to Northwestern.

Gary Marbut is President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, the primary political advocate for gun owners in Montana.  Marbut supported HB 598 before the committee and commented on the unusual opposition by Northwestern, “It’s a mystery to me why Northwestern would choose to burn so much political capital with the Legislature, with Montana ratepayers, and with investors, by launching so actively and visibly against the interests of Montana gun owners.  I’d guess that 90% of Northwestern’s Montana customers are gun owners.  How does it serve Northwestern’s corporate interests to poke a stick at this bear?”

The  Gun Owners Access to Justice Act clarifies that a high level of judicial scrutiny be applied to any government actions that impair the fundamental right to keep and bear arms, a level of scrutiny that is already applied to other fundamental rights.  It would also allow court costs and attorney fees for any person who successfully sued a governmental entity because the person’s rights had been violated by that government entity.

In D.C. v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right.  Under the Montana Constitution, fundamental rights are considered to be those which the people have reserved to themselves from government interference in Article II, the Declaration of Rights.  The right to keep and bear arms is in the Declaration of Rights at Section 12.

If approved by the House Judiciary Committee, HB 598 will move to the floor of the House for Second and Third Readings, and then on to the Senate for the same consideration.  If approved by both House and Senate, HB 598 will go on the next General Election ballot for a vote of the people, and will not require the Governor’s signature.  HB 598 is sponsored by Rep. Matthew Monforton (R-Bozeman).

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Information:  Gary Marbut, 549-1252
                 Robert C. Rowe, CEO, Northwestern Energy, 443-0715
                 Northwestern Energy, Butte, (888) 467-2669

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

By mssa