Dear MSSA Friends,

It was a busy day for us today on Second Reading in both House and Senate.

SB 295, suppressors for hunting, passed the Senate on Second Reading by a mostly party line vote.  Pat Connell, (R-Hamilton) voted against, and Bradley Hamlett (D-Cascade) and Jonathan Windy Boy (D-Box Elder) both voted for the bill.

HB 320, clarifying that schools are not mandated to expel a kid who forgets to take a gun from a vehicle before parking in a school parking lot, passed the House on Second Reading.  All Democrats voted against this bill, and five Republicans voted against it:  Rob Cook, Geraldine Custer, Steve Fitzpatrick, Daniel Salomon, and Jeffrey Welborn.  Do you notice how some of these names keep recurring?

HB 281, our game wardens bill, went seriously down.  I don’t know that any Democrats spoke against HB 281.  They didn’t need to.  A bunch of Republicans spoke against it on the floor and voted against it, too many to name here, plus all Democrats voted against it.  I think this proves mostly how effective the FWP lobby is.  Using your license dollars working behind the scenes, FWP is usually able to kill any bills that threaten or challenge the FWP empire.

MSSA’s Safe Travel to Work bill, HB 505, was amended in the House Judiciary Committee with what I take to have been an unfortunate amendment, even if it may have been well-intended.  The problem with the amendment is that it extends the liability protection for business owners to those who now or in the future have or enforce disarming policies, so the bill now provides no incentive for businesses to quit disarming employees to and from work in order to obtain the liability relief.  With this amendment, I believe that HB 505 has gone from being a help to neutral; from a good bill to a minimal-priority one.  In its current form, HB 505 does not advance the ball down the field at all for employees who wish to be able to protect themselves while in travel to and from work, plus it gives a windfall/reward to the employers that prevent employees’ safe travel.

Important.  HB 457, a constitutional referendum to strike the 1884 this-doesn’t-apply-to-concealed-weapons language from the RKBA in Montana, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote, and will be on the House floor for Second Reading tomorrow (Tuesday) or Wednesday.  HB 457 must get 100 votes from the House and Senate, total (but it doesn’t need the Governor’s signature).  So, we must attract the support of some Democrats to get to 100 total votes.  In order to attract the support of Democrats, I have explained this as a "dress code" issue – that people may be prevented from exercising a fundamental right if they wear a coat.  How would legislators see it, I ask, if a person were prohibited:  From trial by jury if they wore a hat, from freedom of press if they wore gloves, from freedom of speech if they wore shoes, or from freedom from search and seizure if they wore anything but yoga pants?  If legislators would dislike these comparative dress code restrictions on other constitutional rights, I say, they should support HB 547 to remove the dress code restriction lingering in Montana law since 1884 for the RKBA.  GET MESSAGES TO HOUSE MEMBERS TO SUPPORT THIS BILL!!!  Especially Democrats.

Please get messages to Representatives (not Senators) about HB 457 via the Message Center, 444-4800, or the Online Message Form at:

Best wishes,

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

By mssa