Montana Shooting Sports Association
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.
2009 Montana Legislature
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.
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 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
- 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
This bill would fill out the laws relating to the Montana Home Guard,
to offer some resources to the Governor and local sheriffs as
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.
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.
Passed by the House Judiciary Committee. Passed by the House,
sent to the Senate and passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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
HJ 26 addresses these issues and relationships.
Current status: Stuck but non-tabled in the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote..
Bad 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)