(MSWord copy of this questionnaire)



(MUST be returned by 5PM, April 3, 2022 (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 strengthen 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:  Sponsor( )   Cosponsor( )   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 an accused 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:  Sponsor( )   Cosponsor( )   Support( )   Be Neutral( )   Oppose( )

4.  Non-discrimination over firearms.  There are a number of ways that discrimination against firearms may be rearing its ugly head.  Some lenders and credit or payment processors are refusing to provide services to entities that manufacture, distribute or sell firearms.  Some insurers may decline to service firearm-related businesses or firearm owners.  Some private entities with public access may disallow firearms but fail to offer any actual safety to disarmed people.  Some employers may disallow safe travel to and from work by prohibiting firearms in employees' private vehicles.  All of these are discriminatory.  MSSA proposes legislation to prohibit discrimination against firearms manufactures, distributors, sellers, and owners.

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

5.  Power of the Board of Regents.  The Board of Regents has sued to block the campus carry feature of HB 102 from the 2021 session.  The Regents assert that the power given to them in Article X of the Montana Constitution to manage the affairs of the university system allows them to ignore the right to keep or bear arms that the people have reserved to themselves in Article II of the Constitution.  We propose a constitutional referendum to clarify that the Regents are subject to other parts of the Constitution and not only Article X, are subject to laws passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, and also to give the Governor the power to veto any act by the Board of Regents.

I would:  Sponsor( )   Cosponsor( )   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.
See:  http://www.SheriffsFirst.net

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

7.  "Shall not be called in question."  The Montana Constitution says at Article II, Section 12 that the right to keep or bear arms "shall not be called in question ..."  The 2017 legislature passed Senate Joint Resolution 11 that, for the first time in Montana history, defined the phrase "shall not be called in question" and set standards for how the phrase should be applied.  We propose that the Legislature's opinion with SJ 11 be made into a law to guide the application of Article II, Section 12.
See:  https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/billpdf/SJ0011.pdf

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

8.  Constitutional cleanup.  The Montana Constitution's reservation of the right to keep or bear arms contains this archaic language from the territorial constitution of 1884, "... but nothing herein contained shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons."  This was a cultural issue in 1884 and was likely copied from the Missouri Constitution of that time.  For Missouri, this was probably a Reconstruction-era, Jim Crow provision intended to help keep freed slaves disarmed, defenseless, and subservient.  We propose a constitutional referendum to remove this archaic provision from the Montana Constitution.

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 Montanans 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 2023 legislative session, regardless of any FWP resistance to that level of funding.

I would:  Sponsor( )   Cosponsor( )   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 administrative 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:  Sponsor( )   Cosponsor( )   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 that is 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.
See:  http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2015/billpdf/SB0130.pdf

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

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 may be introduced again in 2023.  About such a bill, would you:

(  ) Support        (  ) Be neutral        (  ) Oppose

16.  The cost of self defense.  A person who legitimately defends himself or herself may still be destroyed financially by an overzealous or careless criminal prosecution.  We propose that if a person is prosecuted for a crime, claims self-defense successfully and is not convicted, then the cost of the person's defense must be awarded to the accused by the court.  This would be a claim against the prosecutor's budget.

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

17.  The price of civil rights.  There are times when people's right to keep or bear arms is violated by a governmental entity.  The person complains, but the entity tells the person to get lost.  The person threatens to sue to get rights enforced by a court.  The abusive entity says, so sue - we have lawyers on staff paid by the taxpayers just to deal with things like this.  The message is, getting correction of civil rights abuse will be expensive and will eliminate many citizens from any contest.  We propose a law clarifying that if a person must sue to enforce constitutional rights and the person prevails, then the person should be awarded the cost of pursuing the necessary lawsuit.
See:  https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2015/billpdf/HB0598.pdf

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

18. Oath of office enforcement.  All elected officers and many public officials are required by the Montana Constitution and Montana law to swear and file an oath to "support, protect and defend the constitution."  Unfortunately, there is no useful mechanism in Montana law to hold officials accountable to their oath, once so sworn.  Some take their oath seriously.  Others treat it like a theater ticket stub; to be discarded into or immediately into the trash or immediately dropped on the floor to be trod upon once access to the theater or office has been obtained.  MSSA proposes a bill to define violation of oath of office, to spell out one or more processes to hold office-holders accountable to their oath, and to provide consequences for violation of oath of office.

I would:  Sponsor( )   Cosponsor( )   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)


Candidate printed name            Office sought        

NOTE:  This Candidate Questionnaire released electronically on March 15, 2022.  Any candidates with Primary Election challenges MUST have their CQ returned electronically, and no later than 5PM, Monday, April 3, 2022, for MSSA's candidate evaluations for the June Primary elections.  Thank you.

Thank you for being willing to serve your community and 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.

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