Mike Dennison alludes to an important fact in his story today about the importance of of the gun question in the upcoming election. About the Montana Shooting Sports Association, he writes:
The Montana Shooting Sports Association, which doesn’t release numbers of its membership, has endorsed Fox, McCain and Schweitzer’s Republican opponent, Roy Brown, and will work to get out the word to gun owners, says its president, Gary Marbut.
I suspect there is a reason that the MSSA doesn’t release its membership numbers. They’re likely so small that releasing them would make clear just how irrelevant their opinions should be. Despite their near-constant presence in the Montana media, the MSSA is an irrelevancy that should simply be ignored. How small is the MSSA?
They’re small enough that Gary Marbut is simultaneously their President, Treasurer, and apparently color blind web developer. They apparently haven’t registered to lobby the legislature. In total, their organization has a couple of thousand dollars, showing how little impact it really has, as well as how little support it really has from the sportsmen and women of Montana.
Since 1998, they’ve had exactly two contributions in excess of $200. When? In 2006, when Leo Giacometto and and associate at GAGE International each gave $750, in the midst of Conrad Burns’s tough re-election campaign. (You know, the one he lost, only to get a job at GAGE afterward). The MSSA hardly acted as the champion of gun rights; instead they were just the middle man for some of the dirty money that Leo Giacometto kept throwing at Conrad Burns.
It’s pretty clear what the Montana Shooting Sports Association is: a one-man Republican front group that uses imaginary threats about the loss of gun rights to support Republican candidates. While it’s to Mike Dennison’s credit that he acknowledged in the article that the size of the organization could not be verified, it’s entirely unclear to me why Marbut and his faux organization gets any coverage at all.
Unfortunately, the ubiquitous coverage that Marbut receives gives the mistaken impression that he speaks for many Montanans. It turns out that he seems to really only speak for a few Washington lobbyists and members of the media. They might be easy to look up in the Rolodex when writing a story about gun rights, but Montana journalists would be much better served ignoring this unimportant partisan hack in the future.