Dear MSSA Friends,

As expected, MSSA’s Senate Joint Resolution 11 (SJ 11) passed the House Third Reading today by a vote of 58-42, the same as the Second Reading Vote yesterday.  It’s now a done deal.

This was basically a party-line vote.  All those who voted against SJ 11 on both Second and Third Reading in the House are Democrats, EXCEPT for Rep. Jeff Essman, Republican from Billings and also the Chairman of the Montana Republican Party.  Said differently, ALL House Republicans supported SJ 11, except for Rep. Essman (even those Representatives sometimes accused of being RINOs), and ALL Democrats opposed it.

This only confirms what I said recently about Montana Democrats driving their party into irrelevance in Montana with their lock-step, obedient, anti-gun performance.  It also makes a person wonder what on Earth is going on with Rep. Essman, the ostensible leader of the Montana Republican Party.  Is he attempting to demonstrate his leadership of Republicans?

I wish to thank several critical people for the success of SJ 11.  Sen. Mark Blasdel (R-Kalispell) was kind and sympathetic enough to provide the original bill draft request for SJ 11.  Thanks Mark.  Attorney and legislative drafter Julianne Burkhardt was patient and helpful as I massaged SJ 11 into final shape.  Thanks Julianne.  Sen. Keith Regier (R-Kalispell, Chairman of Senate Judiciary) rose to the call and did a great job when I asked him to be the primary Sponsor of SJ 11.  Thanks Keith!  Rep. Matt Regier (R-Kalispell, son of Keith) did a fine job of carrying SJ 11 in the House.  Thanks Matt.

Thanks also to the members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees for supporting SJ 11, and to those legislators who supported SJ 11 with voice and votes in committee and on the floor of the Senate and House.

Finally, thanks to those of you in the MSSA orbit who messaged legislators with requests to support SJ 11.

The NRA did not support SJ 11 (they did not oppose either).  I think this was because of the Not Invented Here (by the NRA) syndrome, but mostly because getting very far ahead of the gun rights curve is just not in the NRA’s comfort zone, a sometimes surprisingly narrow zone.  It should be noted that the NRA did support our Restaurant Carry and Range Funding bills (both within the NRA comfort zone).

We’ll need to wait and see what role SJ 11 may play in the future of the Right to Keep or Bear Arms in Montana, and in the US.  I only hope that it won’t first be argued in some dog of a legal case where a court has political or contextual reason to dismiss SJ 11 and its principles, and this important opinion of the Montana Legislature, as irrelevant.

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

By mssa