On MSSA letterhead
February 27, 2023
Don MacArthur, Chair
Board of Directors
Missoula Urban Transportation District
Missoula, Montana 59802
Subject: Demand for conformity with law
Greetings from the Montana Shooting Sports Association, the
primary political advocate for Montana firearm owners.
We note that on the MUTD Website, at:
MUDT articulates the policy that, "The following items are
prohibited on Mountain Line:" "Firearms, BB guns, air guns,
The purpose of this communication is to inform you that this
policy violates both the Montana and U.S. constitutions, and that
MUTD lacks the authority under Montana law to adopt, articulate,
or enforce such a policy. We respectfully request that you
remove this policy from whatever policy set MUTD has adopted,
remove this policy from the MUDT Website, cease enforcing this
policy, and conduct whatever training may be necessary to insure
that MUDT staff understand the de-adoption and enforcement
termination of this policy.
Only because it may turn out to be legally desirable to have done
so, we also less politely demand all of the action requested in
the sentence above.
Allow me to review the legal parameters for our request and
demand. Please pardon my foray into the legal weeds on this,
but I anticipate that you may want to consult your attorneys about
this. If so, that counsel will want some legal background.
First, let me declare that I am not an attorney. However, I
am the author of Gun Laws of Montana, a trade publication
now in its Fifth Printing and the accept authority on that subject
in Montana. I have also written for the Legislature many of
the bills for laws relating to firearms that are in the M.C.A.
today. Thus, I am very familiar with Montana laws and legal
principles concerning the subject of firearms.
MUTD is what is characterized in law as a "subdivision of the
state" because it is wholly a creature of the City of Missoula,
which itself is a "subdivision of the state." Montana law
controls the powers of the City, and therefore the powers that the
City may delegate to MUTD.
7-1-111, M.C.A. says in relevant part:
7-1-111. Powers denied. A local government unit with
self-government powers is prohibited from exercising the
(9) any power that applies to or affects the right to keep or bear
Thus, the City can delegate no power to regulate firearms to MUTD
because the City itself is specifically barred from exercising any
such power. For the City to pretend to empower some full
subsidiary to do what it cannot itself would be oxymoronic.
Also please see 45-8-351 and 352, M.C.A.
Further, the people have reserved the right to keep or bear arms
to themselves specifically from government interference at Article
II, Section 12 of the Montana Constitution and in the Second
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Those provisions are so
well known that I don't need to copy them here, but I include them
by reference. However, in case there should be any question
about it, please note that the right the people have reserved to
themselves in the Montana Constitution is clearly a personal and
individual right because it is the right of "any person."
Under the definitions provided in Senate Joint Resolution 11 of
the 2017 legislative session, which defined "shall not be called
in question," any impairment of the right to keep or bear arms
under the Montana Constitution will require a very high level of
scrutiny indeed to pass constitutional muster.
Under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the
Supreme Court's recent NYSRPA v. Bruen standard, no
interest balancing test is allowed for infringement on the right
to keep and bear arms, such as a declaration that a policy
promotes public safety. Rather, any entity defending an
infringement must show a historical analog from the founding era
where a similar such restriction was allowed.
While not close to being on point, the only possibly relevant
historical law I am aware of from Montana's territorial days was a
law making it a crime to sell firearms to Indians. It would
only serve as the required analog if there had been an 1884 law
prohibiting all people from possessing firearms on stage coaches,
but that didn't exist then. In Montana's founding era,
people routinely carried firearms on stage coaches and riverboats.
Mr. MacArthur, I appreciate that MUTD primarily wants to move
people around the Missoula area efficiently and safely, and not be
caught up in what it may see as political controversy.
However, please see this from our perspective. We view Rosa
Parks as a hero. If Rosa were to board an MUTD bus and be
told that she could only ride if she sat in the back of the bus,
we would be highly offended and we hope you would be also.
Besides this being offensive, it would also violate the law.
We see the MUTD policy prohibiting firearms exactly the same.
You may be aware that we made a similar approach to MUTD in 2016.
From the January, 2016 minutes of the Board of Directors of the
Missoula Urban Transportation District: "The Executive
Committee met earlier in the week regarding a complaint received
claiming MUTD’s policy of no guns on buses is not legal. The
Executive Committee reviewed and accepted the recommendations from
legal counsel that policy is legal and in MUTD’s best interest for
Please be advised we are no longer willing to allow this violation
of law and the constitutions to continue. We expect you to
recognize and acknowledge the propriety of our request and demand,
and take the requested action no later than Monday, March 13,
Feel free contact me if you wish to discuss this. Thank you
for your prompt attention to this matter.
Gary Marbut, president
Cc: Quentin Rhoades, esq.