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Montana Politics

Why Does It Matter What the Montana Shooting Sports Association Thinks?

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.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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  • Ohhhh…Gary Marbut…boy, you got this one right. Self-aggrandizing bully extraordinaire – and that’s being nice.

    Then again – you always get it right. 🙂

  • …born on third base chinless probably picked on in grade school social misfit who fancies himself a little too much…to see him in person is an unbelievable misfortune. the hairs on the back of my neck actually raise up from the scent of palpable overcompensating evil stemming from a severe case of insecurity- the man wears an ascot ferchrissakes. he does know his guns though. i’ll give him that. can’t shoot worth a lick – but he knows all about them.

  • Brought a smile to my face. Thanks.

    But, hey, MSSA has gotten 50 (fifty) pro-gun and pro-hunting bills through the Montana Legislature in the past 25 years. How’s THAT for irrelevant?

    Although I confess very limited Website development skills, I am measured to run a handgun at 70% of the best Grand Master in the U.S.

    And, best of all, I don’t have thin skin or suffer from the insecurity that so inflicts liberals. As the old Arab saying goes, “Dogs may bark, but the caravan travels on.”



  • Wow. Passing pro-gun legislation through the Montana legislature? That must be challenging.

    Conning people into spending their money to fund a totally unnecessary, fear mongering organization, thought? A little more challenging, I’ll admit.

    So, how many members do you have?

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