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And Now Gary Marbut is Threatening Montana School Board Members

Fresh on the heels of the news that Gary Marbut’s Montana Shooting Sports Association, an organization that makes the NRA look like the League of Women Voters, will be conducting “training” to encourage kids in grades 1-3 to acquire guns, he’s turned to threatening Montana school boards that he will unleash his organization to “replace every school board member in Montana.”

In a letter sent to school boards across the state, Marbut criticized the Montana School Boards Association (MSBA) for questioning the ballot language in LR-130, which will strip local governments of the right to enact sensible firearms restrictions.

But because it’s Gary Marbut, advocate for gun homicide, he just can’t tell the truth. From the letter:

It’s because you have fallen down on the job of supervising the organization that speaks for you, the Montana School Boards Association. The MSBA has become overtly, publicly, and dishonestly anti-gun, and has aligned itself and you with an anti-gun group trying to dictate Montana policy from New York City. This is simply not consistent with Montana culture or values.

The MSBA was not, of course, advocating an anti-gun agenda, and they were not joining with a New York group to strip Montanans of their Second Amendment rights. They joined a lawsuit to ensure that the ballot initiative language would not, if passed, lead to people asserting a right to carry a gun on school campuses.

The MSBA joined a the lawsuit, not to strike down the initiative, but to ensure that its vague and poorly written language about any “other local government unit” would be used later by someone like Marbut to fulfill his dream of turning Montana’s public schools into shooting galleries filled with armed dangers to the safety of children and teachers.

That’s because the primary role the MSBA plays for many Montana schools is helping them adopt policies that protect the districts from legal liability. They’re hardly an advocacy group, other than advocating the adoption of sensible policy, something Marbut simply wouldn’t understand.

And LR-130, as written is dangerous policy. As Governor Bullock noted, the language of LR-130 would eliminate “local control over whether the mentally ill may bring guns into schools, or whether a local government can permit concealed weapons.”

Marbut’s dishonest screed ends, of course, with a shooting metaphor and an impotent threat to lie in community after community about its elected school board members:

Not only does this make you look incompetent, it also places you publicly in the gun control political camp. I’m certain Montana gun owners will find this information relevant. I suspect they will be glad to have a political target for their frustration over attempts to impose various gun control schemes across Montana, a political target of incumbent school board members.

Given that Marbut endorsed, days after two mass gun kills shook the nation, the “elimination” of people he deems “bad people,” I’d argue it’s in poor taste for him to refer to anyone as a “target,” even metaphorically. Perhaps more significantly, Marbut is demonstrating that he’ll do anything, say anything, and threaten anything to make sure that even our schools will be victimized by the sad, macho fantasies of the gun nuts who believe the only answer to our horrifying rate of gun violence is to introduce more guns to more places.

And if that’s not evidence that LR-130 and its vague language should be opposed by not only the MSBA, but every school board member who cares about student safety, I’m not sure what would be.

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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