With the biennial session of the Montana Legislature in full swing, I think a look at some of the legislation that will potentially affect shooters, sportsmen, and sportswomen for years to come is appropriate at this time. Here are a few bills that have perked my interest. This is just a short list, there are many more in the “hopper.”
First up, HB 212. The short title of this bill is, “Reaffirm that trapping is a form of hunting protected under MT Constitution.” Recently trapping and trappers have come under strong criticism from animal rights groups. There have even been calls for bans on trapping. I rarely support bans of any type as they usually result in more illicit and illegal activity than they prevent, including the creation of black markets. Trapping is just one of the tools used in wildlife and habitat management. While I don’t always agree with some of the policies and decisions of FWP and the Fish and Game Commission, I do believe that overall, Montana’s people and wildlife have benefitted greatly from those policies. I support this bill.
Next, HB 203, short title, “Prohibit enforcement of new federal gun laws.” Although the text of this bill is short, it may legally be a can of worms. I have read the text of HB 203 and I believe the major thrust of this bill is to protect the right of Montanans to own semi-auto firearms and “large capacity” magazines and I agree with that premise. A similar bill passed in the last legislature, but was vetoed by Gov. Bullock. The bill would prohibit law enforcement officers from enforcing certain federal laws and mandates. It will be interesting to see how this legislation again winds its way through the process, if the governor will sign it if passed, and will it pass constitutional muster when it is inevitably appealed in the Federal court system. Stay tuned, this might be fun.
SB 153, short title, “Require wearing of hunter orange.” This bill would change some of the requirements for use of “hunters orange” garments. For decades Montana has required that hunters wear orange while hunting big game with a rifle. NO CHANGE IS NEEDED! Statistics show the “orange” regulation has been very effective in preventing injuries and death. This matter is very personal for me and my family. We lost one of our own 30 plus years ago in a hunting accident. I won’t go into the details of the tragedy other than to say two friends chose to not follow the law, one died, and two families now live with the reality of losing forever a husband, father, family member and friend. I work very hard to prevent anyone else from having to live with the results of a firearms tragedy, no to SB 153. There have been claims that if the government can “make” people wear hunter’s orange, they can take away your guns. The wildlife of Montana are an asset owned by the people. Hunting is a privilege granted and regulated by the people. Bearing arms is a right guaranteed by both the Montana and United States Constitutions. There is a huge difference between the two.
Here are a couple of links to help you find more information on these and other bills that have been introduced in this session of the Montana Legislature and you can find and read the exact text of the bill you are interested in: http://laws.leg.mt.gov/legprd/law0203w$.startup?P_SESS=20151
You can contact any legislator with this link: http://www.leg.mt.gov/css/Sessions/64th/legwebmessage.asp
I urge everyone to make your opinions heard; for the most part those elected to represent us do listen to us and respect our thoughts.
Be safe and good shooting.