Montana Shooting Sports Association

and the

2009 Montana Legislature

Updated 3/23

MSSA Bills - the MSSA Legislative Agenda

Information about the legislative process and how to influence the Legislature is HERE.  Review this if you wish to be as effective as possible in influencing the Legislature and supporting these bills.


Gun ban Self defense - HB 228, sponsored by Rep. Krayton Kerns. MSSA's flagship bill, shoring up Montana laws about how and where a person may possess and use a firearm for self defense without fear of prosecution.

The actual bill draft is HERE.

A Section-by-Section explation of why each Section of the bill is needed and what each accomplishes is HERE.

Critique of MSPOA's and MCAA's ("Top Cops") hit piece on HB 228 is HERE.

Hb 228 passed the House on Second Reading on 2/9 with a vote of 58-42.

Letters from law enforcement officers about HB 228 (soon).

Audio from HB 228 House Second Reading HERE.

Current status:  HB 228 has been passed by the House and sent to the Senate.  Three Sections were stripped out in the House and clarifying (acceptable) amendments were made.  A public hearing was held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/17.  HB 228 is currently in a subcommittee for possible amendments.

Shooting cover  Shooting Range Funding - Since 1989 MSSA has pushed a program to use some hunter license money (not tax money) for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) to make matching grants to local clubs to establish or improve shooting ranges.  This is called the Shooting Range Development Program (SRDP).  This funding must be appropriated by the Legislature every two years.  FWP always fights against any increase in funding - they think of this money as "their" money and would much rather spend it for things "they" think are important (such as studying for the 47th time how many ticks live under the tail of the average antelope east of Roundup).  In the 2007 Legislature, we asked for and received $1,000,000 in funding, over the fierce opposition of FWP.

This session, we will be asking the Legislature for $1,200,000 for the SRDP.

There is much more information about the SRDP and Montana shooting ranges HERE.

Current status:  Range Funding is contained within HB 2, the state budget bill.  HB 2 has passed the House and been sent to the Senate where it will get thoroughly reworked.

Wolf Plan  Wolves - SB 183, sponsored by Sen. Joe Balyeat.  MSSA is supporting a bill to totally revise the relationship between Montana and the federal government about wolves.  For more information, go HERE.

Assigned to Senate Fish and Game Committee.

Current status:  SB 183 was approved by the Senate Fish and Game Committee on 2/19 on a 5-4 vote after some corrective (helpful) amendments were made.  The full senate re-referred it to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, which passed SB 183 on a party-line vote.  SB 183 will come up very soon for Senate consideration on Second Reading.


Flintlock Montana-made guns - HB 246, sponsored by Rep. Joel Boniek.  This bill is intended to set up a court challenge to the power of Congress to regulate firearms made and retained in Montana under the power the Constitution gives Congress to "To regulate commerce ... among the several  states."   You may read this bill HERE.

Current status:  Passed by House Judiciary Committee and passed by the House on Second Reading.  Referred to the House Appropriations Committee because of the cost of $60,000 asserted by the Attorney General to bring the lawsuit required by HB 246 (this is probably an effort to kill HB 246).  AG provision stripped out by the Appropriations Committee and HB 246 passed 20-0.  Subsequently passed by the House by 85-14 and sent to the Senate. Assigned to the Senate Business and Labor Committee.


Morterboard  Non-resident college students hunting - SB 185, sponsored by Sen. Joe Balyeat.  Sportsmen seriously need to recruit new hunters and retain existing hunters.  One small part of this equation involves non-resident students attending college full-time in Montana.  These students simply cannot afford the high cost of non-resident licenses here.  Some of them would like to go hunting here.  Some of them may have lived in Montana for three or four years, but the law prevents them from gaining resident status as long as they are enrolled in College.  This bill would allow qualified non-resident, full-time college students to purchase hunting licenses in Montana for the same price as residents.  This bill would also allow genuine Montana kids who have had to take up residence in another state to afford college tuition there to come back to Montana and hunt for the same price as residents.  All in all, this would not be a lot of hunters, but would generate a great opportunity to recruit and retain hunters.  Hey, take a college kid hunting - get them hooked.  Read the bill HERE.

Current status:  Passed the Senate and gone to the House.  Approved by the House Fiah, Wildlife and Parks Committee and scheduled for Second Reading in the House today.


Minuteman Montana Home Guard - HB 479, Sponsored by Rep. Joel Boniek.

The Montana Constitution says "The militia forces shall consist of all able-bodied citizens of the state except those exempted by law."  Article VI, Section 13(2).

The Montana Codes Annotated (Montana laws passed by the Legislature) says:

10-1-103.  Classes of militia. The classes of the militia are:
    (1)  the organized militia, which consists of the national guard and the Montana home guard;
    (2)  the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the organized militia.

Montanan laws actually say little about the Montana Home Guard - not much there.  Governors from Racicot to Schweitzer have complained that the Montana National Guard is not available when needed because they are "federalized," callec by the U.S. to serve in some dry and sandy place.

This bill would fill out the laws relating to the Montana Home Guard, to offer some resources to the Governor and local sheriffs as needed.

You may read a section-by-section explanation of the bill HERE.

Current status:  Hearing before the House State Administration Committee on 2/13.  Tabled in Committee.

Bear 2 Bear 1 Guns in National Parks - HJ 14, sponsored by Rep. Wendy Warburton.  The Department of Interior revised its regulations about possessing firearms in National Parks for self defense.  Several groups, including the Brady Gang immediately filed suit in Federal Court in Washington, D.C. in attempt to block these new DoI regulations.  HJ 14 expresses the support of the Legislature for the new regulations and calls on the Montana Attorney General to intervene in these blocking lawsuits to defend the interests of Montana people.  Read HJ 14 HERE.

Current status:  Passed by the House Judiciary Committee.  Passed by the House, sent to the Senate and passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Suppressor Repeal archaic suppressor law - HB 427, sponsored by Rep. Joel Boniek.  In 1997, MSSA ran a bill to wipe some Prohibition-era laws off the books that criminalized possession of machine guns and silencers (properly, "suppressors").  These old laws were very badly written and only partially enforced.  They were originally adopted out of fear of Chicago-style gangsters with Tommy-guns.  So, MSSA got rid of them.  Or at least we thought we did.  We left two laws on the books in 1997 as a token for law enforcement, making it an additional crime to commit a crime with a machine gun, and making it an additional crime to commit a crime with a suppressor, both currently felonies under Montana law.

Well, we missed one.  I only recently learned of a statute in the fish and game area of the Montana Codes Annotated, in Title 87, that makes it a crime to be in the "field or forest" with a suppressor - another Prohibition-era law, probably to intended keep gangsters from slaying Bambi with suppressed Tommy-guns.

The good news is that Rep. Boniek is willing to carry a bill to repeal this unnecessary and unenforced law.  HB 427 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

I have talked with FWP early about their arguments against HB 427.  They have (had?) three:

1)  It's a violation of standards of "Fair Chase" philosophy to shoot animals silently.  MSSA response:  Okay, then we have to end archery season.  Besides, we argue, suppressors cannot silence the sonic boom of a bullet, only reduce the muzzle blast, so they don't "silence" a rifle, despite what people get from movies.

2)  FWP needs to be able to prosecute people for poaching with suppressors.  MSSA response:  There's still a statute on the books that makes it a felony to commit a crime (poaching) with a suppressor (as opposed to the Title 87 statute, a misdemeanor).

3)  If suppressors are not prohibited, people will use them for poaching.  MSSA response:  Then we'd probably also better ban motor vehicles because if we don't, people will surely use them in association with poaching, too.

Our chief argument for the bill is the health issue.  Let people who want to protect their hearing - plus that this unneeded statute criminalizes benign conduct.

Current status:  Passed by the House Judiciary Committee.  Failed on Second Reading in the House.


State sovereignty - HJ 26

A Resolution asserting state sovereignty has been introduced by Rep. Mike More as HJ 26.

This is the Montana version of a similar Resolution that is being introduced in a number of other states, including New Hampshire.

Remember, the Montana Constitution says, at Article II, Section 2, "The people have the exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent state."

Some will say that these are just words on paper and don't really mean anything.  I disagree.

These words are a part of the contract by which Montana was engendered as a socio-political entity.  The very existence of the construct called the "State of Montana" is dependent upon this contract among Montana people, a contract giving the state defined and limited powers.

One of these limitations is the terms of Article II. Section 2, which limits the authority of the State to contract with the other states.  That is, by its very charter, the State is not authorized to lock itself politically into being a mere administrative region of that creature of the several states, the federal government, nor may the state surrender the rights and prerogatives of individuals to the federal government.

HJ 26 addresses these issues and relationships.

Current status:  Stuck but non-tabled in the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote..


BanBad Bills - Bills to oppose.

Fake self-defense bills.  Two bills have been drafted that sponsors will claim to be "Castle Doctrine" or "Self-defense" bills, but which are pretty worthless.  These bills are intended to give cover to legislators who oppose MSSA's flagship and hugely important self-defense bill - to undercut our bill.  These two bills are identical and only say that you don't have to retreat if attacked in your home.  By comparison, MSSA's flagship self-defense bill says that you don't have to retreat if you are attacked anywhere you are lawfully, AND that you don't have to dial 911 before you defend yourself.  PLUS, MSSA's bill does much more.

These two fake bills are:

HERE, requested by Senator Larry Jent (D-Bozeman), and

HERE, requested by Representative Kendall Van Dyk (D-Billings)