----- Original Message -----
From: Gary Marbut-MSSA
To: mssa@mtssa.org
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2009 4:45 PM
Subject: Today's report - HB 228, HB 246 & HJ 14

Dear MSSA Friends,

HB 228. This morning I attended a session of the subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee it observe and participate in the subcommittee's ongoing work on HB 228. If I had an hour to write (and you had time to read what I'd write), I couldn't cover all the details and nuances. But here's the overview:

Although there are lot of amendments proposed, and a whole bunch will probably be made, HB 228 will remain largely intact, even with these proposed changes. None of these proposed changes are a done deal until the full Senate Judiciary Committee acts on them. That will be Monday morning, if you wish to tune in via the Legislature's Website and watch or listen to the deliberations of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I've tracked the changes proposed and have discussed these in detail with Brian Judy, the NRA State Liaison for Montana, and with senators on the subcommittee. Many proposed changes are technical rewording amendments, and some are accomplishing the same thing as the final House version but using a different strategy to change current law. Some plow new ground and improve the bill. In one section, I think, we may lose a bit of ground, but not a serious amount. All in all, I think the subcommittee has improved the bill, made it more saleable to the full Senate, and has improved the chances for final passage.

Permitless concealed carry ("Alaska carry") is still intact, shifting burden of proof to the state for instances of self defense is still intact, forbidding law enforcement destruction of firearms is intact, prohibiting landlords from preventing tenants' possession of firearms is intact (with a new exception for the university system), a new provision allowing possession and carry by people convicted of non-violent crime but who have had their rights restored pursuant to the requirement of the Montana Constitution has been added, and the defensive display section has been stricken and replaced with language that doesn't do the job as well but 70% as well, I think.

So, HB 228 is still in good shape - my opinion - well worth supporting. Watch or listen to the deliberation of the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday morning if you want the full lowdown. None of the proposed changes mean anything until voted on by the members of the full Committee. Second reading on the Senate floor will be Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest. I'll get another alert out after the conclusion of the full Senate Judiciary Committee executive session on Monday. I assume I will then recommend that you contact your or all senators and ask them to support HB 228, but I need to wait to see what the full Committee does with HB 228 before offering that recommendation (same with the NRA). Be prepared to get messages to senators Monday afternoon/evening or Tuesday morning - it may be a crash effort.

HB 246. The public hearing was held this morning by the Senate Business and Labor Committee on HB 246, Montana-made guns. There were no opponents. Immediately after the hearing (unusual) the Committee took executive action and passed the bill. It now goes to the floor of the Senate for Second Reading, probably on Monday. I'll get a separate alert out on that when I can confirm the Second Reading date.

HJ 14 (guns in National Parks) was supposed to be on Senate Second Reading today, but was put off until tomorrow (news just in).

More soon.

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Montana Shooting Sports Association
author, Gun Laws of Montana
Gun Laws of Montana