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.

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EricPete TalbotLKCraig Moore Recent comment authors
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Craig Moore
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Craig Moore

I wonder if the bill would have less objections if the language “it proves” were struck in New Section 3. In the same vein as this post I saw where President Obama was called on the carpet for over-hyping gun claims. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2015/03/12/obamas-odd-series-of-exaggerated-gun-claims/ Earned him 3 long noses, and that was being kind.

Pete Talbot
Admin

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… Read more »

Craig Moore
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Craig Moore

The wording I highlighted needs to come out of the bill along with ‘that.” “it proves that” If not, this bill has NO chance in any session.

This wasn’t the first time Obama was caught using erroneous deceptive rhetoric. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/obamas-continued-use-of-the-claim-that-40-percent-of-gun-sales-lack-background-checks/2013/04/01/002e06ce-9b0f-11e2-a941-a19bce7af755_blog.html

Every time this happens, now with the ammo fiasco that blew up in the administration’s face, bills like HB598 gain traction as Dem gun ban intentions are revealed and trust goes out the window.

Pete Talbot
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Craig Moore
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Craig Moore

Pete, you greatly miss the point if you think it is a contest.

LK
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LK

craigy, gayr marbutt is an idiot. Are you REALLY gonna be an apologist for every inbred idiot in your party? Sad, so sad. The ONY thing that amazes me is how they dream this stuff up! Is it really on anyone’s radar other than marsbutt and this outta state goofball ms. elsa dee la raunchee? Hell, I’m a REAL gun nut, and these idiots give us a bad name! Even the gun sites are telling these idiots to STFU! They have crossed into the realm of the absurd. Period. And that is NOT productive! Google ms. dee la raunch some… Read more »

LK
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LK

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… Read more »

LK
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LK

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!!

Eric
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Eric

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.

Pete Talbot
Admin

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… Read more »

LK
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LK

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… Read more »

Craig Moore
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Craig Moore

Babies with bazookas???? How about knitting sweaters. ;>p

Eric
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Eric

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… Read more »

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