Missoula Gun Sales

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A profound thank you to the Missoula City Councilors who are advancing background checks for all gun sales within Missoula city limits.

The naysayers are many but these council members are doing what they believe is right in the face of nasty opposition.  Just look at the comment section that follows the Missoulian story – some truly offensive stuff there.

The blogs I frequent often have comments about “moral cowards” (usually leveled at people who disagree with a certain premise).  I would venture that the councilors who proposed and support the gun ordinance are showing moral courage.  That’s rare in elected officials.

One of the more reasoned critiques came from Dan Brooks at the Missoula Independent, who is sympathetic to the ordinance but doesn’t support it.  He says local laws won’t work and there needs to be a federal law for background checks at gun shows and for private sales, but that a federal law is impossible in the current Congress.

Why not start at the local level, then?  It certainly can’t hurt and may even gain some momentum, but he continues:

I cannot support this ordinance, however, because I think it is likely to provoke opposition from gun show participants without making it meaningfully harder for felons to get guns … It also has the potential to alienate an important partner in solving this problem: organizers of gun shows.

Organizers of gun shows and most gun show participants will never be allies in restricting access to guns, so I’m not that worried about alienating them.  They are a small minority.

There are many reasons for supporting this ordinance.  Here are mine:

1) If the ordinance prevents just one homicide or suicide, it’s worth it.

2) Although it may be more symbolic than having any sweeping impact on gun sales, symbols are important.  They speak to the values we hold dear in our community.  I remember a decade ago when the council passed a resolution opposing the Iraq War.  The resolution didn’t end the war but it did show where we (and many other communities) stood, morally. That’s important.

3) It will give Gary Marbut conniptions.

The proposed ordinance makes me proud of my city and (most) of my city council.

 

 

 

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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

18 Comments

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  • “They speak to the values we hold dear in our community. I remember a decade ago when the council passed a resolution opposing the Iraq War. The resolution didn’t end the war but it did show where we (and many other communities) stood, morally. That’s important.”

    There’s something wrong with this formulation … you are saying that empty gestures in a fake democracy really do matter after all? I sort of doubt it.

    It’s a layered problem. Public opinion does not matter, but even if it did, it is so easily managed by symbols and agitprop that it’s of no consequence anyway. There needs to be a centralized and energized movement to stop the tyrants and criminals that get us into these wars, but with a public distracted by sports and entertainment, poorly educated and unable to think properly, that is not going to happen.

    So we are left with a city council here and there that makes an empty gesture, and that’s good enough for you?

    One thing is clear, or ought to be very clear to you by this time anyway: Voting does nothing to address these problems. The two parties agree on all major policies. That taxes hope.

    • “So we are left with a city council here and there that makes an empty gesture, and that’s good enough for you?”
      No. First, it isn’t an empty gesture. It’s a small step in the right direction. It might even prevent a homicide or suicide.
      Again, though, you are confusing a specific ordinance with the global political stage. I’m not talking about Syria or Ukraine or U.S imperialism. I’m pretty sure that my city councilperson/county commissioner/legislator isn’t a corporate shill and is advancing legislation on the principles they believe in. And I’ll vote for them based on those principles. Do you follow local politics? Let’s take LGBT rights, for example. One councilor votes to extend the same rights I have to this constituency. Another does not. See the difference?

      • You spoke of Iraq above. That’s why I talked about wars.

        I do follow politics. I understand it pretty well too, but not in a way that you would at this stage of your development, and I say that with kindness as I was once just as you are, totally naive.

        It does not matter whether it is an alderman or a president, you have to follow the money. Most office holders are fronting for moneyed interests. Genuine people are trouble, and so don’t often raise money and can be taken down if they do by chance get elected. The real power behind them is silent, and the media, which is compromised, always talks in terms of politicians and party politics, but never money backers. That way, we never actually talk turkey about politics. We just think we do.

        Do you know who the most powerful man in Montana is? The most powerful corporation? Do you know who Monica Lindeen fronts for? Jon Tester? Brad Johnson? Travis Kavulla? Roger Koopman?

        You might say they answer to voters, but you should run for office some time just to get an idea of how little attention voters pay to politics. Politicians know what to say to please them at election time, but otherwise ignore them. They operate by suggestion, use symbols and PR talk, and can fashion a voting record to please any constituency. But they work for money.

        If you don’t follow money, you so know very little about politics.

        Tester is a timber man, for instance. The timber lobby saw that Burns was in trouble, and so backed Tester to replace him, a win-win for them in 2006 – either way, they got their man. Right under your nose he was bailed out to the tune of $1 million in 2012. If it was you I discussed this with, you did seem to know the importance of the event that saved his ass.

        • Let’s parse that last comment.
          1) “I do follow politics. I understand it pretty well too … ” I asked if you followed “local” politics, which you obviously don’t understand at all. I have been involved in numerous campaigns – city council, county commissioner, PSC – and I know the candidates are not “fronting for moneyed interests.” That’s absurd. Just look at their C-1 campaign files; no dark money, no super PACS, just small, individual donations. As a matter of fact, most of the candidates I’ve worked with were running against the “monied interests.”
          2) “Do you know who the most powerful man in Montana is? The most powerful corporation? Do you know who Monica Lindeen fronts for? Jon Tester? Brad Johnson? Travis Kavulla? Roger Koopman?” Do you? Pray tell. I’d venture Dennis Washington as the most powerful man, at least the richest, and he probably maxes out on campaign contributions but he sure hasn’t decided any of the races I’ve been involved with. Corporation? Probably more like corporation associations: finance, timber, energy; labor has some clout, too. The corporations tend to give to Republican candidates but sometimes hedge their bets and give to some Democrats. Still, the local races I’ve worked on don’t see any of this money. As for the others, well, Koopman has his tea party base but Lindeen, Tester, Johnson, Kavulla … please let me know who they’re fronting for. (Some factual links would be helpful.)
          3) I’d really like to see some hard data on the “timber lobby saw that Burns was in trouble, and so backed Tester to replace him … ” Burns was the timber industry man right up to the election. I’m not sure what $1 million donation to Tester you’re talking about. Was it the Hunters and Anglers PAC that bought TV time for the libertarian candidate? Well, that’s not the timber industry. And while I abhor super PACs and dark money, Citizens United opened the floodgates. The strategy to split the vote between the libertarian and the Republican candidate made sense. If you don’t understand that, then you’re the one who is “totally naive.”

        • “The strategy to split the vote between the libertarian and the Republican candidate made sense. If you don’t understand that, then you’re the one who is “totally naive.””

          I see that when corrupt politics favors your guy, you internalize it, approve of it! $1 million was injected into the camping to save Jon Tester. Who has that kind of money? What did they buy?

          Follow the money means just that. You surely know that Hunters and Anglers did not raise $1 million. Here’s my suspicion: You fear the implications of finding the source of that money.

          Damn! I tried to be succinct. Failed.

          My experience as a Democratic candidate was that Democrats were yukky, such hypocrites. Their philosophy was mere window dressing. But the idea that they are “bought” is too simplistic. Though many are corrupt and bought, our system often functions on a much more subtle level.

          Washington is probably the most powerful man in the state, as you say, and ExxonMobil the most powerful corporation as I see it. Power is merely the ability to make others conform to your will. Bribes, threats of violence, manufactured scandals, opposition candidates and primaries, bad publicity, are all available to powerful people to hold office holders at all levels accountable, and who also control the media. People have to get the message, that’s all. And they do. Those who don’t do not last in office.

          The names I mention – Lindeen is interesting to me. She and her family made a pile of money as early entrants in the ISP business. Obviously they were insiders. She has served power well in office, and as auditor knows that she has to look the other way on a whole host of items. She understand power and so has risen level to level. If you think it is well-informed voters that bring this about, I ahve a bridge to sell you.

          PSC is a place where it is important that certain corporations control the office holders. Vetting is serious business. Koopman and Travula are a different breed, and oddly, are not bought, in my view. They were taken in as youth by a hack philosopher given high profile in our propaganda system, Ayn Rand. They are true believers, and so threaten no one in power. Ergo, their rise to power was not impeded.

          So most are bought, some are true believers, one or two are honest, and it is all one big happy party. One big factor in Montana: Term limits. I ran and lost in 1996, and in 1997 Racicot and Goldman Sachs ran roughshod over the legislature with electrical power deregulation. Had I won, how would I have voted? As a newbie, I would have been too uninformed to understand what was happening. That’s why term limits were foisted on us – to make sure the legislature is always malleable.

  • Damn Swede could you ease up on the Google? If you look for something, it takes you there! That way, you don’t have to think, your specialty.

  • I imagine that if this ordinance was enacted, that the promoters of the next gun show would only need about a 15 minute audience with a Judge and the ordinance would be null and void.

    Missoula politicians obviously have a lack of real issues to tackle.

    • Missoula politicians have many real issues to tackle. This is one of them. BTW, city attorney Jim Nugent issued an opinion that state law allows local municipalities to pass laws to keep guns out of the hands of felons, minors and the mentally ill.

  • Pete have you ever heard of the Supremacy Clause? Federal gun laws trump local law, and it’s perfectly legal for me to sell you a firearm, without any paperwork, or restrictions.

  • Montana Code Annotated § 45-8-351(1) provides that:
    Except as provided in subsection (2), a county, city, town, consolidated local government, or other local government unit may not prohibit, register, tax, license, or regulate the purchase, sale or other transfer (including delay in purchase, sale, or other transfer), ownership, possession, transportation, use, or unconcealed carrying of any weapon, including a rifle, shotgun, handgun, or concealed handgun.

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