(MSWord copy of this questionnaire)

Montana Shooting Sports Association

2022 Sheriff Candidate Questionnaire


1.  Sheriff is top law enforcement in county.  We believe that the elected county sheriff is the top law enforcement official in the county, and therefore the sheriff has more authority than other state and federal law enforcement officials within the sheriff's county.  Do you agree with this position?

(  ) Agree
(  ) No opinion
(  ) Disagree

2.  Law Enforcement Cooperation - "Sheriffs First".  Many Montanans, both citizens and people in public office, are concerned about the potential lack of accountability of federal officers conducting law enforcement operations in Montana.  In Montana, we know our county sheriffs and they are elected and accountable locally.  We believe the sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the county, and ought to have the legal tools to implement that authority.  MSSA may offer a bill to require federal officers to obtain the advanced written permission of the local sheriff before conducting an arrest, search, or seizure in the sheriff’s county.  The bill would include 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.  Such a bill was passed by the Montana Legislature before, but was vetoed by the Governor.

I would:
( )  Come to Helena to testify in support of such a bill
( )  Support such a bill with letter or phone call
( )  Be neutral
( )  Oppose such a bill with letter or phone call
( )  Come to Helena to testify in opposition to such a bill

3.  Firearms.  Some law enforcement professionals believe that guns outside the hands of law enforcement personnel constitute a hazard for law enforcement officers.  Others believe that having more citizens who are prepared to provide for their own personal protection is safer everyone, including law enforcement personnel.  Which view do you agree with?

(  ) Guns are a law enforcement hazard
(  ) Guns in citizens' hands enhance safety for all

4.  Shooting Ranges.  Some people claim that established shooting ranges provide citizens with safe and suitable places to shoot, and thereby decrease incidents of questionable or irresponsible firearms use. Which statement most accurately describes your position with respect to retention and development of shooting ranges?

(  ) I will support shooting ranges
(  ) I am neutral about shooting ranges
(  ) I don't support shooting ranges
(  ) I will oppose shooting ranges

5.  Law Enforcement Training.  Law enforcement training sometimes instructs officers to treat every armed person as a felony suspect for officer safety.  Other training acknowledges that many law-abiding citizens possess and carry firearms, and that these citizens are not likely to be a threat to law enforcement officers.  Which statement most accurately describes your view on this issue?

(  ) Any armed person requires a felony stop approach
(  ) An officer should approach every incident assuming people are armed, but not assuming they are criminals
(  ) Armed citizens are unlikely to be a threat

6.  Sheriff Richard Mack; "Constitutional Sheriff".  There has been a lot of publicity about former Sheriff Richard Mack of Arizona.  Mack is an outspoken advocate that a sheriff takes an oath to uphold the state and federal constitutions, and is obliged to protect the people of the county from those who would infringe on the rights the people have reserved for themselves from governmental intrusion in those constitutions.  Sheriff Mack has founded the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA).  Which statement most accurately describes you?

( )  I have never heard of Sheriff Mack or CSPOA
( )  I have never heard of Sheriff Mack or CSPOA, but I like the idea
( )  I have never heard of Sheriff Mack or CSPOA, but I don't like the idea
( )  I have heard of Sheriff Mack or CSPOA and I like the ideas he expresses
( )  I have heard of Sheriff Mack and CSPOA and I disagree with the ideas he expresses

7.  Oathkeepers.  A national organization called Oathkeepers is intended primarily for law enforcement and military personnel, but includes anyone who has taken an oath to uphold, defend and protect the Constitution.  Oathkeepers has a Website at oathkeepers.org, on which is published a list of "Orders We Will Not Obey."  Do you agree with this list of "Orders We Will Not Obey?"

( )  Agree
( )  Uncertain (please explain)
( )  Disagree (please explain)

8.  Montana Home Guard.  The Montana Constitution says that all able-bodied people are in the militia.  State law divides the militia into the "organized militia" and the "unorganized militia."  State law further subdivides the organized militia into the National Guard and the Montana Home Guard.  The US Supreme Court ruled in Perpich v. US that whenever the Pentagon calls, a state's National Guard become federal assets and are no longer available to the state.  The Montana Home Guard is a state-only entity, but currently exists only on paper in the Montana law books.  Moreover, the law on the books is very brief - just one page acknowledging the existence of the Montana Home Guard.  In 2023 a bill may come before the Legislature to flesh out the Home Guard, defining its mission, responsibilities and scope, and making this all-volunteer, unfunded force available to the Governor or to the local sheriff.  Pursuant to this bill, locals could form medical, transportation, communications, forestry, scout, or other types of units with the permission of the Governor.  With respect to this bill, would you:

( ) Travel to Helena to speak in favor of the bill
( ) Communicate with legislators in support of the bill
( ) Take no action
( ) Communicate with legislators in opposition to the bill
( ) Travel to Helena to speak against the bill

9.  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) clarify that any elector is qualified to seek the office of sheriff; 5) specify that the sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in each county; 6) reserve essential law enforcement powers to the sheriff at the county level; and 7) allow sheriffs to negotiate with Native American tribes for law enforcement on reservations.

With respect to this proposed constitutional change, I:
( ) Travel to Helena to speak in favor of the bill
( ) Communicate with legislators in support of the bill
( ) Take no action
( ) Communicate with legislators in opposition to the bill
( ) Travel to Helena to speak against the bill

10.  Deputy backup.  Some Montana sheriffs look for who they think are the top 20% of concealed weapon permit applicants, perhaps those with military backgrounds or other qualifications the sheriff likes.  The sheriff asks these few if they would be willing to be on a list of people to possibly be called on if the sheriff needs additional manpower, such as backup for a deputy responding alone to an incident in a remote location but near where the volunteer lives.  Do you think this practice is:

(  ) A good idea to provide additional resources if needed
(  ) An idea with significant problems that might or might not be overcome
(  ) A bad idea to involve non-law enforcement personnel in the official law enforcement mission.

11.  MSPOA political direction.  Montana sheriffs have gotten an undeserved reputation in recent years as being the most anti-gun people in Montana.  This is because lobbyists employed by the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers' Association have testified against almost every pro-gun bill heard before the Montana Legislature since 1989.  Lobbyists informed legislators that opposition to pro-gun legislation is the official position of all Montana sheriffs.  While this problem seems to be diminishing with the MSPOA selection of new lobbyists, Montana sheriffs continue to bear the anti-gun reputation in Helena created by MSPOA for several decades.

One political result of this decade plus of MSPOA anti-gun activism is that MSPOA has squandered the political capital of sheriffs by being anti-gun.  MSPOA has angered the pro-gun majority of Senate and House members with its anti-gun antics, making it difficult for MSPOA to obtain legislative support for issues that are not gun-related and sheriffs need the Legislature to address and approve.  If elected sheriff, would you (check all that apply):

(  ) Get out of MSPOA and stay out of the MSPOA
(  ) Join MSPOA and insist it stop its anti-gun activism
(  ) Join MSPOA and insist it pursue pro-gun political efforts
(  ) Join MSPOA and vote only for leaders who are actively pro-gun
(  ) Join MSPOA and insist that it continue its anti-gun activism role
(  ) Not be interested in this issue

12.  Be Safe, gun safety for kids.  MSSA has long pushed its "Be Safe" gun safety for kids program.  It is designed for kids in grades 1 - 3, and is approved by the Legislature and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Be Safe is a short story that a presenter reads to a group of kids, about how one Montana family deals with firearm safety issues in the home.  The presenter then hands out copies of the Be Safe brochure and asks kids to take it home and have parents read it to them and to siblings one more time before bed.  This reinforces the message, involves siblings in the safety training, and offers parents a set of standards to apply for home gun safety.  MSSA has provided about 100,000 copies of the Be Safe brochure to interested Montana users over the past 20 years.  Be Safe is in the public domain and available for any and all interested persons, including parents, educators, and others.
See:  http://progunleaders.org/BeSafe/
If you are elected as sheriff, will you (check all that apply):

(  ) Be disinterested in pushing Be Safe locally because its not within the SO mission
(  ) Make sure that local education officials are aware of Be Safe availability
(  ) Ask any SO school resource officers to deliver the Be Safe program to kid classes
(  ) Actively campaign for universal delivery of Be Safe to kids in your county

13.  Cross deputization.  Some federal agencies have sought deputization of their personnel by sheriffs to give their personnel a broader range of authority in Montana.  A recent bill passed by Congress would allow the BATFE to deputize local officers to enforce federal firearms laws.  House Bill 258 from the 2021 legislative session prohibits Montana state and local public employees from enforcing any new federal gun laws.  Cross deputization of federal and local officers may violate the intent of HB 258.  Which of the following statements best describes your attitude towards cross deputization?

(  )  I would not cooperate with any deputization of federal officers or of local personnel by federal entities.
(  )  Cross deputization may be necessary for joint task forces and federal grant compliance.
(  )  Whatever cooperation that can be done between federal and local entities should be done.

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



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Thank you for being willing to serve your community in public office, and thank you very much for helping to provide us information about your views on issues of interest to us.

(NOTE:  Please return this Candidate Questionnaire to MSSA per instructions on the cover page.)

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