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Dear Sens. Baucus and Tester and Rep. Daines: Greetings from Montana. Because there is much dis-cussion among gun owners of Montana about proposals by Sen. Feinstein and others for Congress to enact various types of gun control, I thought you would appreciate knowing what I hear from Montan-ans about this.

I speak to you as a person intimately familiar with firearms, with public policy about firearms; as a person accepted in state and federal courts as an expert on firearms, firearms safety and use of force; and as the president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, Montana’s primary organization asserting the right to keep and bear arms, also affiliated or associated with the National Rifle Associa-tion, Gun Owners of America, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the Second Amendment Foundation.

On behalf of the Montana Shooting Sports Association I wish to express our unequivocal opposition to any ban on any class or type of firearms, any new registration requirements on any class or types of firearms, any restrictions on manufacture, sale, or possession, of ammunition feeding devices of any configuration or capacity, and any government intrusion into firearm transfers between private citi-zens. Any congressional actions in any of these areas would be an infringement upon the rights the citizens of Montana have reserved to themselves.

Consider the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article II, Section 12 of the Montana Constitution. These sections of these foundational documents are not government permission to keep firearms. They are statements whereby the people have reserved these rights to themselves specifically from government interference. These statements do not create any rights, but simply recognize pre-existing “natural rights” which are restricted from government interference.

As you consider whatever “gun control” (actually, people control) may be offered by Sen. Feinstein or others, I hope you will keep these facts clearly in mind. “Gun-free zones” are a terrible failure of public policy. Virtually all mass shootings, including the one in Connecticut that has sparked the current wave of media hysteria, happen in places where public policy has incorrectly assured people they are safe, but where the policy has actually created risk-free zones for madmen, and pools of defenseless victims conveniently offered up for slaughter by failed policy.

Former police officer Ron Avery says, “The only way to check violence in progress, where the victim can neither hide nor flee, is by equal or greater force in a timely manner.” If Congress feels compelled to “do something” in the wake of the Connecticut shooting, it should repeal the pretense of all federally mandated or federally inspired “gun-free zones.”

For any inside the Beltway who actually believe in the effectiveness of “gun-free zones,” I recommend the White House, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, the U.S. Supreme Court and all federal courthouses be declared “gun-free zones” and that all armed guards and protective personnel in those places be removed. If “gun-free zones” are effective for our kids, they’re good enough for our servants. Various gun bans, licensing or registration schemes, and/or bans or restrictions of ammunition feeding devices will fail. I won’t bother you with discussion of the fact that any such restrictions will have no effect on criminals or madmen. I believe you already know that. I do hope to inform you about how strongly the gun owners of Montana feel about their right to keep and bear arms. I have asked around among a con-siderable number of friends, acquaintances and contacts in Montana. I have not learned of anyone who would comply, for example, with a new federal law requiring them to register or surrender their semi-auto rifles to authorities.

Let me be very clear: Montanans will not comply with any new federal restrictions. The most any such restrictions would do would be to create a huge, new, armed, outlaw class of citizens. And, I very much doubt that most Montana law enforcement personnel would cooperate in enforcing any such federal restrictions. Clearly, the vast numbers of citizens who have bought new firearms in the past month, especially the hundreds of thousands of expensive semi-auto rifles, did not buy these new firearms simply so they’d have them available to surrender if Congress should pass a law demanding they do so. Conclusion.

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Since Montana law enforcement personnel are unlikely to enforce any such restrictions, the effect of passage of such restrictions would ultimately be for federal officers to come to Montana to enforce them. Because most Montanans will simply not comply with any new federal restraints on a right they have reserved specifically from government interference, the obvious result would be armed conflict between Montanans and federal enforcers. (I offer this not as a threat or a challenge, but simply as an observation.)

I certainly hope you would not set Montana on the path to an armed conflict with federal enforcers by aiding or supporting passage of any new federal restrictions. That would not be in the best interest of your constituents. Instead, if you feel compelled to pass some actually corrective legislation in response to the media hysteria over the Connecticut shooting, I highly recommend that you get rid of those dan-gerous and illusory “gun free zones.”

Gary Marbut is the president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association

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