Beware the Gundamentalist Agenda for Montana: A Look at Their Legislative Priorities

There are a lot of reasons that Montana cannot afford to elect a Republican as Governor in 2020–and we’re certainly going to talk about them here–but one of the most important is the reactionary agenda of the gundamentalists to turn every corner of our state, from private businesses to preschools, into spaces where we’re more likely to experience gun violence.

A post from the Montana Shooting Sports Association (these guys, the ones who call for lynching public school teachers, threaten school board members, and claim that mass shootings are hoaxes designed to disarm the public) outlines their agenda, one they acknowledge Democratic governors have blocked.

Prime candidates for bill ideas for next session will be bills Governor Bullock has vetoed over the last eight years, such as campus carry, permitless carry, sanctuary state status for Montana (prohibit enforcement of new federal gun laws by Montana public employees), restaurant carry, guns secured in private vehicles in employer parking lots, and the School Safety Act (armed school staff). In addition to considering these, I’d like to take a fresh look at reducing or eliminating all “gun free zones,” places where everyone but criminals are disarmed (LR-130 addresses this, in part). Another idea on the table will be a bill to make any individual or entity liable for injuries sustained by a person who has been disarmed by policy and therefore unable to provide for the person’s self defense.

Given that the MSSA writes gun policy for Montana legislators and plays a vital role endorsing candidates, that plan will become a reality if Montanans elect Greg Gianforte or Tim Fox.

Businesses will no longer be able to keep employees from bringing guns in their cars, schools will see more weapons endangering our children, and when law enforcement is able to take weapons from someone who is a threat to himself or others, they can be held liable for that person not being able to shoot someone in “self-defense.”

In Montana, the most common reason a person would have his weapon taken away is if he has committed partner or family member assault or creates reasonable fear that he will do so. It’s used in a vanishingly small number of cases, but the Montana Shooting Sports Association is more interested in protecting the right of dangerous, violent people to possess firearms than in protecting the right of family members and intimate partners to stay alive.

You can be certain that Greg Gianforte would sign such a bill, given that last April he voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act because the gun lobby was upset that the measure closed the “boyfriend loophole” which protects the “rights” of those not married to the people they stalk, harass, and hurt to continue to possess firearms.

Montanans believe in the Second Amendment, but most reasonable people understand that, like all rights in the Bill of Rights, it comes with reasonable limits. We don’t want guns in our classrooms and bars, and we certainly don’t want them in the hands of people who kill and terrorize their partners and family members.

The Montana Shooting Sports Association’s agenda is wrong for Montana and wrong for public safety, but given the craven deference the Republican Party shows this violent, absolutist organization, the only way we can maintain sanity in our gun laws is to elect another governor who will use the veto pen on these wrong-headed, perilous legislative proposals.

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.

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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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