The Montana Shooting Sports Association Declares War on Northwestern Energy and Representative Fitzpatrick

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On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Representative Matthew Monforton’s HB 598, the so-called Gun Owners Access to Justice Act, which under the guise of protecting gun rights from the imagined threats conjured up in Gary Marbut’s mind, would make it very difficult for the state to enforce any sensible gun restrictions while enriching lawyers who would bring frivolous suits against the state following its passage. The proposed law would be a nightmare for businesses, who rightly fear that its passage will make it impossible for them to prevent employees from bringing guns to work.

As such, Northwestern Energy’s chief lobbyist John Fitzpatrick spoke against the bill, along with other Montana business groups, who all fear the liability they would face if employees could bring guns into their workplace. In his testimony, Fitzpatrick argued that the bill represented “poor policy” and a “threat to private property rights,” before making clear that the bill used the Second Amendment to “overpower the rights of others.”

Other opponents included the Montana Chamber of Commerce, the Montana Petroleum Association, the Montana Bankers Association, Montana Credit Unions, MEA-MFT, Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, the Montana League of Cities and Towns, who variously worried about the confusing nature of the bill, its potential for concealed carry of weapons into banks, criminals suing for restrictions of their rights to use guns, and even the threat it poses to restrictions on guns in our schools.

In short, this bill is a poorly-worded concept that’s even more poorly-reasoned, and those who opposed it were hardly opponents of gun ownership, but conservative and liberal groups concerned about a law that could invalidate sensible ordinances and laws all over the state and its communities.

In contrast, only four people, including Representative Monforton and Gary Marbut spoke in favor of the bill. (Strange that an organization that purports to represent so many people has such trouble bringing people to testify, but I digress.)

And then the Montana Shooting Sports Association lost its ever-loving mind, attacking the First Amendment rights of opponents and moving perilously close to libel in attacks against lobbyist John Fitzpatrick and his son, Representative Steve Fitzpatrick.

Elisa Delaurenti, who works as the “legislative coordinator” for the Montana Shooting Sports Association, took to Facebook to post a series of inflammatory and irrational remarks following the testimony. Given the absolutist position taken by the MSSA about the Second Amendment, it’s especially ironic to see that Delaurenti calls into question the First Amendment rights possessed by Mr. Fitzpatrick, but that’s not the worst of what she did. Over a series of posts and comments, she moved from questioning whether or not Northwestern Energy has given kickbacks to Representative Steve Fitzpatrick, to making accusations of “felony crime,” “the putrid stench of criminal activity, “and having “heard” that Representative Fitzpatrick received kickbacks from Northwestern Energy for another vote.

Finally, she moved to a double accusation: that Northwestern was breaking the law to testify against the bill and arguing that Representative Fitzpatrick was receiving a “fat bank account” for voting against the position taken by the MSSA.

That’s a remarkable series of claims, some of which I imagine are actionable under MCA 27.1.802.

At some point in the process, the MSSA released a letter, falsely claiming that 90% of Northwestern Energy customers are gun owners (the real figure is probably closer to 60%), suggesting that Northwestern Energy was financially linked to former New York mayor and gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg, and calling on members to harass Northwestern Energy for having the temerity to advocate for sensible gun policy.

Eventually, harassed by enough poorly-written rants on their Facebook page, Northwestern responded, noting that “Michael Bloomberg does not have financial interest in the company. We do, however, subscribe to a couple of Bloomberg News products.” Northwestern also refuted other misstatements that came from the Montana Shooting Sports Association.

The MSSA Association does not represent the views of the vast majority of Montana gun owners, who don’t want to worry about their co-workers being armed, their school children facing armed classmates, and their bars and banks turning into shooting ranges. Each session, they bring a self-inflated sense of importance and purpose to the Legislature, most of which can be ignored with the sure knowledge that the governor will veto their proposals, but this “citizen” group, complete with a lobbyist who doesn’t register as such and a legislative coordinator would do well remember there are other laws in Montana than those related to guns.

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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.

13 Comments

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  • Yes, Craig, Obama exaggerated the gun claims, but let’s take a closer look. The U.S. ranks 4th in gun homicides per 100,000 (out of 36 “Industrialized nations”) behind Brazil, Mexico and Russia, with a rating 5.2. Now that’s some great company we’re keeping. Most countries have a rating of below 1 per 100,000. Obama overreached a bit, too, with, “It’s easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable.’’ I’ll bet there are places in this country where that is true, though. And finally, “People just say well, we should have firearms in kindergarten and we should have machine guns in bars.” Again, some hyperbole but I can see Gary Marbut advancing this legislation in the next legislative session.

  • Wow! Pee Wee (gayr) Marbutts has finally turned the entire Lege into Pee Wee’s PLAY house! Un-frickin’-believable!
    Pee Wee: “Well inbred boys and girls, let’s see who’s behind this window today! Well will you look at that. It’s ms. Elsa DeelaRAUNCHEE, from Washington state! And look at her. She looks just like the outta state clown that she is! Welcome, ms. deelaRaunchee. Why are you dressed up like an inbred clown? And what do you have for the inbred boys and girls today?”
    Ms. DeelaRaunchee: “Well, Pee Wee, I came to Montana to show all the inbred boys and girls just how the tyrannical nig, OOOPS!, I mean black man in the oval office is destroying the country! And I’m just nutty enough to do it! I mean, just look at my face book posts! Are they nutty or what? You see, I heard that Montana was recruiting inbred clowns for the Pee Wee Marsbutt show, and I just couldn’t resist! THAT’S why I’m here, Pee Wee!”
    Pee Wee: He he. And we’re glad to have you, Elsa DeelaRaunchee! And I just LUV your clown costume!”
    Friggin’ pathetic. A NOTHER outta state inbred for the Pee Wee Marsbutt show! Can the once great ReePube Party in Montana sink any lower! I mean, really, a NOTHER outta state inbred??? Jeezus! Do we NOT have enuff inbreds of our own???
    Sad, so sad.

    • Pee Wee Marsbutt and his new best outta state inbred girlyfriend, Ms. Elsa Dee La Raunchee! The early days! But I think I like the new Lege version better! Ms. Dee La Raunchee is just SO butch! Butch’em UP, pistolera patootie! I luv it when you talk about gettin’ my pistol ready to fire! YOWZA! I’m thinkin’ that maybe that load was too big for you to handle!!! I done made a mess all over the target!!

  • Once again Pogie – how about telling us again what qualifies you to talk about gun ownership – since you’ve never picked up a gun, you’re probably better qualified to talk about brain surgery – LOL. Criticize Marbut all you want, he can take it, but I don’t think there’s a more successful lobbyist in the country.

    • I’ve picked up a gun on a number of occasions, Eric. So, according to your logic, I’m qualified to talk on the subject. Gary Marbut is a dangerous hack who scares people into thinking that the government wants to take away their guns so they won’t be able to protect themselves from all the murderers and rapists out there. He lines his pockets with the dues these frightened people pay into his MSSA, plus the additional funds he gets from the gun and ammo industry. He then goes up to Helena to advance whacky bills and get his name in the paper. Legislators, mostly spineless Republicans but a few Democrats, quake in fear that Marbut will call them “anti-gun” and so they advance his bazookas for babies-type bills.

    • Eric, you know me, amigo. I AM a gun guy, AND a Vietnam Vet. And I can’t STAND lil’ Pee Wee Marsbutt! Look, Eric, remember the old Groucho Marx line about the woman who was on his show, and Groucho asker her if she had any hobbies? She mistakenly replied that she had ten kids. Groucho then responded that even though he liked his cigar, he took it OUT now and then!
      Unlike Pee Wee Marsbutt, I like guns, but I DO take my head outta my ass now and then! Poor Gayr doesn’t!
      And really, Eric, just what the hell bars did PEE WEE Marsbutt squander his younger years in? GAY bars! For you see, in the bars that I drank in, fisticuffs where the order of the day! Now, imagine the introduction of GUNS into the mix! Just don’t need no guns in bars, NOR schools, NOR college campuses NOR banks, etc.! Marsbutt IS an idiot!
      Pee Wee Marsbutt has done for us gun guys what the inbred Jeezus jumpers have done to religion. Religion has become something odious and hateful! Why? Because of the endless, relentless, unceasing bullshit by the christofascist Jeezus jumpers! And people of faith HATE them for that! And us gun nuts hate Pee Wee marsbutt for his crazyassed gun bills!
      Real gun nuts are NOT crazyassed loons like Pee Wee marsbutt. They are some of the most decent law abiding folks that I know. You don’t need to fear them. They are great neighbors and great people. But Pee Wee marsbutt IS to be feared! Why? Because he brings out the Marcus Karma in people! And that’s real bad shit!
      And BTW, no need for guns in bars. Maybe you remember that incident in the Heights ’bout twenty some years ago when a guy entered the VFW with an M-16 with the intention of robbing the joint. Well, he was lucky to escape with his life! The old vets in there were ready to KICK HIS ASS for him before the guy fled in terror! True story. Don’t need no guns in THAT bar! Them old vets took care of the siteeation with OUT a shot being fired! Me THEENKS that ol’ Pee Wee marsbutt best stick to gay bars! Hell, what’s the worst that can happen there? Ol’ Gayr might get his “pistol” oiled up REAL good! And really, when you think about it, isn’t that what Ol’ Gayr’s REALLY all about??? Playin’ with his gun to see how many times it shoots??? HEY, a moron has to have a hobby! But he DON’T need to clog up our Lege with bullshit!

    • Well Larry – the answer is yes – you know how to shoot, and you don’t have the typical liberal paranoid belief that a gun is a waiting rattlesnake – ready to jump off the wall and bite somebody, so I think you’ve earned the right to discuss firearm safety.

      I wouldn’t go talk to a 30-year-old virgin Priest about marital problems either – I’d find somebody who’s been married for a few decades instead – same principle.

      I hate gun-free zones – you might as well put up a sign saying “Psychopaths come here and shoot up the place – you will find little resistance” – I wish there had been an armed Spanish teacher at Sandy-hook, or one of the other sites of school shootings, the outcomes could have been a lot different.

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