(CLICK HERE for this Questionnaire as an MSWord file.)

MONTANA SHOOTING SPORTS ASSOCIATION

2020 GOVERNOR CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE
(MUST be returned by 5PM, March 27, 2020 (Received here) for any candidate with a Primary challenge)

Please check the response that best describes your position on each issue.

1.  Sheriffs in the Constitution.  In some states the office of sheriff has been effectively abolished, usually by moving essential powers from sheriffs into the hands of a bureaucratically-controlled state police force.  Shifting power from a locally elected official into the hands of unelected, state-level bureaucrats diminishes liberty, damages accountability, and shifts even more power from people to government.  To prevent this drift in Montana, MSSA proposes a constitutional referendum to upgrade the language about the office of sheriff in the Montana Constitution.  This new language would:  1) Establish the office of sheriff as a constitutionally-specified office; 2) make the office mandatory for each county; 3) require that the sheriff always be elected (not appointed except to fill a mid-term vacancy); 4) specify that any elector is qualified to seek the office of sheriff; 5) clarify that the sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the sheriff's county, and 6) reserve essential law enforcement powers to the sheriff at the county level.

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

2.  Rights upon release from custody.  Prosecutors routinely demand, and some judges allow, that an accused-but-innocent (until convicted) person be stripped of reserved constitutional rights as a condition of release from custody, EVEN IF abuse of the restricted right had nothing to do with the alleged offense for which the person was in custody.  Should an accused trespasser be prohibited from trial by jury, should an accused poacher be prohibited from political speech, and should an embezzler be prohibited from possessing firearms?  MSSA proposes a law that would clarify that a person may not be stripped of a constitutional right as a condition of release from custody unless abuse of that right was an element of the offense for which the person was in custody.

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

3.  Prohibit enforcement of new federal gun laws by Montana public employees.  Every week there is talk of a new federal gun control bill, to limit magazine capacity, to outlaw semi-auto rifles, to ban common bullets, to limit the number of firearms a person may own, to ban certain accessories, and many more.  The principle has already been established by the U.S. Supreme Court (Printz v. US) that the federal government may not commandeer state and local government employees to implement federal programs.  We propose that Montana public employees be prohibited by state law from enforcing, or assisting to enforce, any federal gun laws that are not already in effect.
http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2015/billhtml/HB0203.htm

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

4.  Allow safe travel to work and employee property right inside private vehicles.  Employees have a property right to what they choose to have inside their vehicles, whether Bibles, newspapers, or firearms.  Employees also have a constitutional right to be equipped to provide for their own personal protection when traveling to and from work.  However, many private employers have made it a termination offense for an employee to have a firearm locked in the employee's vehicle if that vehicle is parked in a company parking lot.  Such employers assume no responsibility for employee safety during travel to and from work.  We propose that employers be prohibited from firing employees only because that employee has a firearm locked in a privately owned vehicle in a company parking lot.  This bill would require that any such firearms also be out of sight from outside the vehicle.
http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/HB0571.htm

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

5.  “Gun free zones.”  Alleged "gun free zones" are very dangerous places, and never "gun free" for criminals, but only for victims.  There is a badly-conceived statute at 45-8-328 to regulate "prohibited places."  This law allows anyone to carry a firearm openly (go figure) in the listed places but prohibits those who have taken training, had a background check, obtained a concealed weapon permit from their sheriff from exercising their concealed weapon permit in these “prohibited places.”  We propose that this archaic and bad law be corrected to allow trained, sheriff-certified, and permitted citizens to be exempt from these “prohibited places” where anyone may now carry openly.
http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2015/BillHtml/HB0371.htm

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

6.  Sheriffs First - Law Enforcement Cooperation.  Many Montanans, both citizens and people in public office, are concerned about the lack of accountability of federal officers conducting law enforcement operations in Montana.  In Montana, we know our county sheriff.  He is elected and accountable locally.  We believe the sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the county, and ought to have the tools to implement that status. MSSA will offer a bill to require federal officers to obtain the written permission of the local sheriff before conducting an arrest, search, or seizure in the sheriff’s county.  There are exceptions for federal reservations, Border Patrol, Immigration and Naturalization Service, close pursuit, when a federal officer witnesses a crime that requires an immediate response, if the sheriff or his personnel are under investigation, and other necessary exceptions.  This bill was passed by the Legislature in 1995, but was vetoed by the Governor.
http://progunleaders.org/SheriffsFirst/

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

7.  Harmonizing concealed weapon permit (CWP) requirements - “permitless carry”.  Since 1991, a CWP has not been required for a law-abiding person to carry a concealed weapon in 99.4% of Montana - outside the limits of cities or towns.  With over two decades of experience that not requiring CWPs for nearly all of Montana has not created any problems, we propose a bill to harmonize the law so a permit will no longer be required for a law abiding person to carry a concealed weapon in the remaining small 6/10ths of 1% of Montana, inside cities and towns.  We intend to leave the permitting process in place, so citizens who desire them may still obtain CWPs for travel to other states that recognize Montana CWPs, and for firearm purchases at gun stores under the federal Brady Law.  This change would exclude criminals from applicability - it would still be illegal for criminals to carry concealed weapons.  The current system is effectively "coat control."  That is, if wearing a firearm inside city limits, a person my not also wear a coat (that could cover the firearm) without a government permit.  It is pretty nonsensical in Montana to prohibit wearing a coat without government permission.
http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2015/billhtml/HB0298.htm

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

8.  Clarify authority of school boards for firearms violations.  An underreported tragedy in Montana is the number of students who have been disciplined, many expelled, for forgetting that their hunting rifle was locked in their vehicle, usually from a weekend hunt.  When such a condition occurs in a school parking lot, ill-informed administrators usually tell reviewing school boards (incorrectly) that the board has no choice but to expel offending students because of mandatory federal law.  However, unknown to these poorly-informed administrators, federal law on the subject specifically excludes from consideration any firearm locked in a vehicle in a school parking lot.  About 450 Montana high school students have been expelled, and had their academic aspirations ruined for life, over this issue.  We propose a bill to clarify for uninformed administrators and misinformed school boards that firearms locked in a student vehicle does not mandate expulsion, but that school boards have full discretion to apply discipline as needed and appropriate to the ingredients of the incident.  This bill would NOT deprive school boards of tools to deal with genuine safety problems, but would clarify that firearms locked in vehicles do not MANDATE student expulsion.
http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2015/billhtml/HB0320.htm

I would:  Sponsor( )   Cosponsor( )   Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

9. Shooting range funding.  Montana began using some hunter license money to make matching grants to develop shooting ranges in 1989.  The program to build safe and suitable places for Montana people to shoot was put into state law in 1999, as the Shooting Range Development Program (SRDP).  The funds for this program are approved each legislative session in the appropriations process for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks budget.  There are no general tax revenues used for this program, only the money hunters pay for licenses.  The 2007 Legislature appropriated $1,000,000 for the SRDP.  The Legislature appropriated $600,000 in 2009, and about $650,000 in 2011 and 2013.  We ask that $1,000,000 be appropriated to the SRDP in the 2021 legislative session, regardless of any FWP resistance to that level of funding.

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

10.  Shooting range property taxes.  Most shooting ranges in Montana are owned and operated by nonprofit entities and function as a considerable community service and resource.  In order to avoid property taxes that could make shooting ranges financially impossible, many of these entities seek 501(c) status from the IRS.  This takes them off the tax rolls, but also causes other problems for such entities, such as maintenance to keep the federal tax exempt status.  We propose that shooting ranges owned and operated by Montana nonprofit entities be exempt from property taxes, so as to not drive them into the clutches of the IRS to become a 501(c).  Because they already pay no property taxes as a 501(c), there would be little loss of revenue to Montana from this, but it would free up many shooting ranges from being under the thumb of the IRS vis-a-vis their 501(c) status.

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

11.  Reinvigorate the Montana Home Guard.  One thing we learned from the incredible fires last summer (other than that we must do a better job of managing our public lands) is that the Governor and county sheriff could certainly use a trained and equipped resource pool of personnel and equipment to draw on, a pool not as expensive as the National Guard is and that is not subject to federal control as the National Guard is.  The Montana Home Guard is an honored state institution that exists in law only, but because of the skeletal laws it does not exist in practice.  We recommend legislation that would better define the nature, mission(s), and organization of the Montana Home Guard, the units of which would be under the control of and available to the Governor and county sheriffs.  Such units could be medical, forestry, transportation, communication, or others.
http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2015/billpdf/SB0130.pdf

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

12.  Higher education and shooting sports.  Montana produces a number of competitive young shooters way disproportionate to our population.  Many Montana youth accept shooting scholarships at out-of-state universities because Montana offers no such programs.  MSSA proposes a resolution urging the Board of Regents to encourage shooting sports and shooting teams at all institutions of higher education in Montana so that Montana youth may seek shooting scholarships in Montana.  About this proposed resolution:

I would:  Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

13.  Preemption and LR-130.  Montana has a “preemption law” at 45-8-351. M.C.A., to effectively implement Article II, Section 12 of the Montana Constitution by prohibiting local governments from regulating firearms.  Notwithstanding our preemption law, the City of Missoula recently attempted to impose a type of gun control known as a “universal background check,” to require a federal background check for most private transfers of firearms.  Ultimately, both the Attorney General and the Montana Supreme Court held that Missoula's ordinance violated Montana's preemption law.  To forestall future attempts such as Missoula's and clarify existing law, the Legislature passed HB 357, which created Legislative Referendum # 130 (LR-130).  This measure will be on the ballot in November for a public vote.  LR-130 is intended to strengthen Montana's existing preemption law and to further clarify that local governments may not regulate firearms and may not create a patchwork of gun control across Montana. Do you:

(  ) Support LR-130
(  ) Oppose LR-130
(  ) Take no position on LR-130

14.  Government spending to influence elections outcome.  Any use of taxpayer funds to influence the outcome of elections has generated two legal axioms about such spending:

1)  That when legislative bodies budget and appropriate taxpayer funds, it is no legitimate part of that appropriation to influence the outcome of an election.  Therefore, any spending of taxpayer funds that has the effect of taking sides or influencing an election outcome amounts to theft of public funds; and

2)  Under the “equal stake doctrine,” both the proponents and opponents of an issue to be publicly decided at an election have an equal stake in any taxpayer funds used to influence public opinion on the issue.  Therefore, any spending of taxpayer funds must be neutral (e.g., an AG's ballot statement of intent) or balanced (e.g., the SoS Voter Information Pamphlet).

Do you believe Montana authorities should take immediate action to stop any government spending of taxpayer funds that has the effect of taking sides in an election?

(  ) Yes
(  ) No
(  ) No position

15.  "Red flag" laws.  Some states have considered or adopted a type of law that has come to be called a "red flag" law, or in some cases a Risk Protection Order (RPO). Proponents allege these laws make people safer by allowing police to take people's guns if there is an allegation that such persons might be dangerous to themselves or others. Despite possibly good intentions of proponents, such laws have serious constitutional and practical problems.  The constitutional problems include lack of due process and violation of property rights and the right to keep or bear arms.  Some practical problems include that such a policy fails its intended goal because it leaves an allegedly dangerous person free to find another way to commit the predicted mayhem.  An RPO bill was introduced unsuccessfully in the 2019 Legislature and will probably be introduced again in 2021.  About such a bill, would you:

(  ) Support
(  ) Be neutral
(  ) Oppose

The foregoing responses are actually my positions on these issues, to the best of my knowledge and at this time.



                                                                    
Candidate Signature (electronic signature accepted)


                               
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NOTE:  This Candidate Questionnaire released electronically on March 10, 2020.  Any candidates with Primary Election challenges MUST have their CQ returned electronically, and no later than 5PM, Monday, March 27, 2020, for MSSA's candidate evaluations for the June Primary elections.  Thank you.

Thank you for being willing to serve your state in public office, and thank you very much for providing interested Montana gun owners with information about your views on issues important to them.

Please return questionnaire to mssa@mtssa.org (best) or MSSA, P.O. Box 16106, Missoula 59808.

Any additional comments may be added here or attached: