Gary Marbut’s Rootin’-Tootin’, Insurrectionist Rant in the Independent Record

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I was astonished to read in today’s Helena Independent Record that Gary Marbut is now publicly threatening (on behalf of Montana’s law enforcement, no less) armed insurrection if the Congress or President imposes regulations on guns that don’t meet his historically inaccurate, misguided, and downright dangerous interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Once again, Marbut stakes out an untenable and entirely irrational position on government regulation of firearms:

I wish to express our unequivocal opposition to any ban on any class or type of firearms, any new registration requirements on any class or types of firearms, any restrictions on manufacture, sale, or possession, of ammunition feeding devices of any configuration or capacity, and any government intrusion into firearm transfers between private citizens.

There simply aren’t enough words to express how badly Marbut and his ilk have misinterpreted the Second Amendment.  Of course, the federal government has the authority to regulate guns. They’ve done so since the founding of the republic. Of course, the rights enshrined in the Constitution are subject to the “general welfare” of the nation and the social contract that limits our freedoms in exchange for functioning civil society. Of course, governments have the authority to respond to crises, and if the epidemic of gun violence in this country isn’t a crisis, little else is.

Marbut is wrong about the Founders’ interpretation of the Second Amendment, as Adam Winkler noted in his extensive, academic research about the Second Amendment.

A cursory look at our history demonstrates that Congress has always had (and exercised) the authority to regulate the sale of the most dangerous weapons. Even the NRA, until its takeover by radicals in the 1970s, understood that sensible regulation was permissible.

Consider this:

In the early 1920s, the National Revolver Association—the NRA’s handgun training counterpart—proposed model legislation for states that included requiring a permit to carry a concealed weapon, adding five years to a prison sentence if a gun was used in a crime, and banning non-citizens from buying a handgun. They also proposed that gun dealers turn over sales records to police and created a one-day waiting period between buying a gun and getting it—two provisions that the NRA opposes today.

As for “firearm transfers between private citizens,” it’s precisely this murky world of private sales without records that makes enforcing prohibitions on guns getting in the hands of criminals and the mentally ill so difficult.

It’s especially galling that Marbut has chosen to speak for law enforcement officials, who so often have to risk their lives because of the gun-crazed climate Marbut and his friends at the NRA have worked so hard to create. While Marbut believes that law enforcement officials are cowards, I believe they understand the need for sensible regulation of firearms.

Marbut builds to a crescendo of ill-informed fearmongering when he writes:

Since Montana law enforcement personnel are unlikely to enforce any such restrictions, the effect of passage of such restrictions would ultimately be for federal officers to come to Montana to enforce them. Because most Montanans will simply not comply with any new federal restraints on a right they have reserved specifically from government interference, the obvious result would be armed conflict between Montanans and federal enforcers.

In recent history, the kinds of people who have been involved with armed conflict with federal law enforcement in Montana are the kind of people Marbut speaks for: anti-government zealots who believe they can hole up on compounds and ignore the rule of law because it conflicts with their misguided view of the Constitution.

It is simply astonishing that Marbut would impugn the patriotism of most Montanans who own guns and use them responsibly, Montanans who understand that sensible regulation of guns not only makes us safer, but better protects our rights. 

It’s also fascinating that the Independent Record chose to give prominent coverage to someone whose zealotry exceeds his actual knowledge by a wide margin, but in a sense, I am glad that the paper gave this kind of publicity to the radical views that Marbut espouses.

The more people are exposed to this lunacy, the sooner we’ll adopt sensible gun policy in this country, a country on pace for more annual deaths by gun violence than automobile accidents.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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Craig Moore
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Craig Moore

Perhaps when Marbut penned his letter he was unaware of the letter penned by Baucus and Tester to Holder back in 2009: Dear Attorney General Holder: This letter is in regards to your recent comments suggesting the reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons. We oppose reinstating the ban on the sale of assault weapons, and we call on the Department of Justice to enforce existing laws before it considers imposing any new restrictions on gun ownership. Your comments noted increased violence among international drug traffickers as a reason to reexamine the ban on assault weapons within this country; however,… Read more »

The Polish Wolf
Member

Craig – there is a big difference between opposing new legislation as a Senator, and making grave warnings that violence will result from the passage of such legislation. Protecting the access of every law abiding citizens to a gun is far different than demanding that every person be able to buy a gun from whoever without restriction. If I’m selling a gun, I need all of two minutes and a smartphone to find out if that person is a registered sexual of violent offender. Why is that not a requirement? Moreover, Max and Jon are wrong. The laws preventing a… Read more »

Craig Moore
Guest
Craig Moore

PW, don’t mean to ignore your comment, see my response to Don.

Don Pogreba
Guest

Could you point out the portion of that letter which threatens an armed response or which suggest there can be NO further federal regulation of arms?

I can’t seem to find them, no matter how often you post the same thing.

Craig Moore
Guest
Craig Moore

Can you point out the threat you claim is in Marbut’s letter as opposed to a statement of “what is so” –Montanans will not willing turn over their armaments? As to your second part of your question, what part of opposing ANY infringement that you don’t understand in the context presented?

Don Pogreba
Guest

This is a crazy idea, Craig, but imagine this. A sensible restriction on guns could certainly not infringe on the Second Amendment. Every U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that. In the same way, a federal law could restrict speech without being an infringement on the First Amendment unless, of course, you believe there should be no federal restrictions on the publication and distribution of child pornography.

Asserting, entirely without evidence, that the “obvious result would be armed conflict between Montanans and federal enforcers” seems a touch threatening to me. It’s also insane.

Craig Moore
Guest
Craig Moore

Don, I think Marbut may have made a better point in his letter merely asking Tester to reaffirm his position in his 2009 letter AND what appears on Tester’s website. http://www.jontester.com/issues/protecting-gun-rights/ Protecting Gun Rights Jon is a staunch supporter of gun rights for law-abiding Americans and has strengthened those rights as a U.S. Senator. Jon strongly believes that the rights guaranteed to Americans under the Second Amendment apply regardless of where in America they live. As a third-generation Montanan and Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, Jon understands firearms are a part of Montana’s heritage. Jon has an A-rating from… Read more »

Craig Moore
Guest
Craig Moore

…and it seems like both Tester and Baucus are not backing away from their 2nd Amendment support. http://www.ktvq.com/news/baucus-and-tester-react-to-obama-gun-plan/ Senator Jon Tester issued this statement today after the Presidents plan was unveiled: “As Congress considers ways to address gun violence, we must look at all aspects of this issue. Our priority must be keeping all Americans–especially our kids–safe. I will look closely at all proposals on the table, but we must use common sense and respect our Constitution.” Montana’s senior Senator Max Baucus also shared his thoughts in a statement today: “Recent tragedies have shaken all of us, and everyone wants… Read more »

Cyrellys
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Cyrellys

Gary Marbut is not impugning the patriotism of most Montanans who own guns and use them responsibly. He is in fact speaking what we all are thinking. Being Montanan, myself, I can say that most Montanans are usually a people of few words, long on work, highly invested in Montana life of which gun culture and the principles represented by the Constitution both state and national are representative of. Your commentary about what Gary said is without understanding and poorly spoken. Please do not speak for us. When we have something to say, we will speak for ourselves. I for… Read more »

The Polish Wolf
Member

No one is proposing any federal legislation that would take anyone’s guns away; merely limiting the future sales of certain weapons. That’s Marbut’s first nonsense. Secondly, local law enforcement will enforce any future laws, again, because they will likely consist of limiting future sales of semi-automatic weapons. And if he really thinks that they won’t, he should look at how happily law enforcement participated in the Medical Marijuana raids, even though no suspects were charged with violating state law. Finally, even if the Feds outlawed semi-automatics with large clips and retroactively made possession of them a crime, again, highly impossible,… Read more »

Craig Moore
Guest
Craig Moore

PW, consider “Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in” Feinstein. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=blXkl9YVoHo

Larry Kralj, Environmental
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Larry Kralj, Environmental

“and many Montanans who do would give them up before actively resisting the law.”

Jesus. Where you from, dude? That’s some crazyass talk.

James Conner
Guest

Gary Marbut does not speak for me. He never has, and he never will.

petetalbot
Guest
petetalbot

Ditto.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Nowhere in the Second Amendment is gun ownership enshrined.

The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” was to preserve the Slave Patrol Militias in the Southern States, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that…and we all should be too…Today’s Second Amendment is linked to our nation’s disturbing history of slavery. In the Beginning, there were the Militias. In the South, they were also called the “Slave Patrols,” and they were regulated by the states.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/101792214

larry kurtz
Guest

Ooops: above comment is mine.

Larry Kralj, Environmental
Guest
Larry Kralj, Environmental

Wow! Ol’ Gary thinks pretty HIGHLY of himself! Why? Because he’s “intimate” with guns! And he probably is, for I can imagine ol’ Gar sittin’ around in the privacy of his home when no one is looking, and fondling his gun ’til is shoots! YIPeeee! Yippers! THAT is how ol’ Gar became intimate with guns!

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