Once again, it appears the Montana Legislature will be Gary Marbut’s personal show, with hours of staff time and thousands of taxpayer dollars spent debating a series of conspiracy-riddled, absolutist gun nut proposals that no sensible governor would allow to become law. The Montana Shooting Sports Association, Marbut’s personal lobbying wing, has already posted the twelve terrible bills it will fight for during the session, and even though these twelve bills shouldn’t even pass a committee, odds are Governor Bullock will have to veto a handful of them at the least.
The first bill is designed to combat the tyrannical threat of limited ammunition supplies in the United States by encouraging ammunition development in the state. To do so, the bill proposes giving a 20 year tax amnesty to ammunition manufacturers and exempting them from liability in the event that their product blows up in the face of some Civil War enthusiast battling tyranny. The bill died in 2013 after a laughable hearing featuring the non-stop testimony of Gary Marbut and Tim Ravndal of the CONSTITUTION DEFENDERS!
Two of the bills are insurrectionist, rooting-tootin’ Civil War shooting bills to prevent federal laws and federal law enforcement in the state. Governor Bullock vetoed the first of these bills, one prohibiting enforcement of federal guns laws in 2013, and will certainly need to do so again. It seems no number of court decisions will convince Marbut to believe that federal law trumps state law, but we’ll get to waste more valuable legislative debating and killing this bill once again. The second of these bills is yet another effort to put “Sherriffs First” and require that federal law enforcement get the permission of local sherriffs before enforcing the law.
The third set of laws is designed to ensure that even schools can become gun zones. Marbut wants to allow high school students to bring guns to schools and prevent colleges from restricting gun posession on campuses. Even the Republican House had the good sense to refuse to consider encouraging high school students to bring guns on campus, and Governor Schweitzer vetoed the proposal to allow guns in the University system. Perhaps a more fruitful avenue for Marbut to consider would be to have the Legislature carve out an exception for Confederate Charter schools that will require gun ownership as a prerequisite for attendance.
A fourth set of bills is designed to allow people to carry guns wherever they like, concealed or not. One of the bills strips the property rights of business owners, who will no longer be able to prevent employees from keeping guns in their cars at work. This bill, which combined with Marbut’s Stand Your Ground law, will make Wal-Marts across the state real places for adventure, died in the 2013 session. The others will eliminate the requirement for a concealed weapons permit in Montana citites and allow concealed weapons in bars, banks, and restricted areas of government buildings. Nothing says sensible gun policy quite like arming people in banks, does it?
A favorite proposal for the fiscally imprudent patriot will allow “up to $5,000 of firearms, archery equipment and ammunition that a person has owned for a year or more to be exempt from claims under bankruptcy.” Not only does the Second Amendment make you free of any sensible gun regulation in Marbut Worldo; it also gives you the right to not be able to pay for them. Fortunately, those impoverished gun enthusiasts will, if the MSSA gets its way, be able to shoot game with the benefit of a silencer that no bank can take away.
Finally, given the absence of logic underlying all of these bills, Mr. Marbut and the MSSA are once again proposing a Montana Militia, a Home Guard, to defend the state against enemies foreign and domestic. It all makes sense: if Marbut were to somehow pass this collection of dangerous, illogical, illegal, and unconstitutional measures, we’d need a new militia force to deal with the gun violence that would plague the state. Not even the crazed 2011 Legislature was willing to debate this idea on the floor of the House or Senate, but the hearing was one of the finest spectacles of that glorious year.
The legislature is already off to a splendid start, gaining national attention for its effort to impose 1800s morality on “lady legislators,” and we’re likely to see more attention devoted to the effort to turn Montana into Somalia. Wouldn’t it be better if the Montana Legislature spend its time debating meaningful bills about education, health, and all the other issues that really matter to the state instead of indulging one man’s paranoid views on gun ownership?