Regarding the letter to the editor of the TV News about HB 228
To Whom It May Concern:
Some points to consider.
- We didnít see anywhere that Senator Curtiss said that law enforcement in general supports HB 228. In fact Sheriff Anderson went far out of his way to oppose it. He appeared at the Senate hearing in opposition. Listen to the audio archive. All he said was that he was there to oppose the bill. He didnít say why. Is he letting someone else do his thinking for him? Just who exactly is running the Lincoln county Sheriffís Department?
Gary Marbut, the author of the bill had this to say about Andersonís appearance.
Montana State Senator Aubyn Curtiss,
Senate District 1
In discussing the position of your sheriff on HB 228, it is correct to point out that when HB 228 is supported by EVERY national and state organization of gun owners worth mentioning (list below), your sheriff went well out of his way to oppose HB 228 AND oppose all of those gun owners, and in doing so he chose as allies the most liberal Democrats in the Legislature and the likes of the anti-rights buffoons at the Montana Human Rights Network. People are known by the company they keep. If your sheriff hung out in Lincoln County primarily with thieves, druggies, rapists and other criminals, his personal reputation would quickly suffer. He'd be known as a scofflaw. Likewise, his political reputation obviously suffers for the political allies he chooses in Helena - his clear and free choice. One must assume he thought Helena was far enough from Lincoln County that the voters back home would not learn which side of the gun rights line he chooses to occupy.
The anti-gun, anti-freedom position your sheriff took with HB 228 is even more reprehensible since he took that position as President of the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, thereby tarnishing other good, actually pro-gun sheriffs and peace officers with the dark stigma of his political alliances and political choice. By very definition, if every significant pro-gun organization in the U.S. and Montana takes one position and your sheriff opposes that position, he is NOT pro-gun, period, no matter how much he may claim otherwise. The voters of Lincoln County deserve to know the truth.
Talk is cheap. Let your sheriff be known by his deeds.
Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Organizations supporting HB 228
Montana Shooting Sports Association
National Rifle Association of America
Gun Owners of America
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Weapons Collectors Society of Montana
Montana Rifle and Pistol Association
Montana Women's Shooting Association
Western Montana Fish and Game Association
Big Sky Practical Shooting Club
Custer Rod and Gun Club
Big Muddy Practical Shooting Association
Richland County Sportsmens Club
Bigfork Gun Club
Samuel Whitamore Memorial Range in Three Forks
Gallatin County Campaign for Liberty
MSU Young Americans for Liberty
The letter in the TV News states the truth that the major opposition in Helena was by law enforcement and county attorneys. Almost all the opposition was wearing a badge of some kind, and most had on a uniform. The House judiciary committee took issue with the fact that some of them may have been "on duty" and may have been paid to be there. Listen to the audio archive of House judiciary on January 22nd.
Audio Archive here
The TV News article states " Regarding the carrying of concealed weapons by felony offenders, under most circumstances, according to Montana law, they would be allowed to carry a concealed weapon." This is a bald faced lie. It is already illegal for a felon to carry a weapon regardless of whether itís concealed or not! Whoever wrote this article wants you to believe that felons are getting some advantage here. Not true. All the officer has to do is check who the person is, and look at his record. If he has felony convictions, they have the same ability to stop and check if they have a weapon that they would have once HB228 passes. The question is now moot because HB228 has passed and has been signed into law without this permit-less carry provision.
Another point is that there are already people in Lincoln county who were formerly convicted of felony crimes who have had their records expunged and have been issued concealed carry permits, while on the other hand certain people who have never been convicted of any crime whatsoever, felony or misdemeanor, have been denied a permit based on " past criminal history". One person that was denied a permit has never been convicted of any crime. That is a travesty of justice. Evidently the sheriff thinks he has the right to deny a permit based on oneís political beliefs. That can also be a crime. Under Montana law it is a misdemeanor crime of "official misconduct" ($500 fine and 6 months in the slammer upon conviction) for the sheriff to deny a permit unless there is a felony conviction or a misdemeanor conviction with at least a one year sentence attached. Under Montana code 45-8-321 section 1 A county sheriff shall, within 60 days after the filing of an application, issue a permit to carry a concealed weapon to the applicant."Ö. The key words here are shall issue. Section 2 "The sheriff may deny an applicant a permit to carry a concealed weapon if the sheriff has reasonable cause to believe that the applicant is mentally ill, mentally defective, or mentally disabled or otherwise may be a threat to the peace and good order of the community to the extent that the applicant should not be allowed to carry a concealed weapon. At the time an application is denied, the sheriff shall, unless that applicant is the subject of an active criminal investigation, give the applicant a written statement of the reasonable cause upon which the denial is based."
Sheriff Anderson has denied a permit stating only "past criminal history" as the reason for denial. That is not a written statement of reasonable cause. The person in question has never been convicted of any crime, misdemeanor or felony, while previously convicted felons are walking around with concealed carry permits in Lincoln county. Then when Anderson was interviewed by a newspaper reporter from Kalispell he added "connections with anti-government groups" to his reason. That was a public defamation of character. It was also not an official "written statement of the reasonable cause upon which the denial is based" but in fact the sheriff stepped outside his office to a public media outlet. Be careful sheriff Anderson. You are walking on very thin legal ice here. You can become liable under civil statutes as well by smearing people in this fashion. You are probably very fortunate not to have mentioned the personís name, or you would probably already be charged. Or did you mention that personís name to the reporter? We might need to find that out in a deposition.
The TV News article also states "But otherwise, if you are faced with deadly force or force likely to cause serious bodily injury, then and only then, may you use the same force in return." Are you law enforcement officers saying that if someone comes at me with a knife, I can only use a knife in return. Itís just these kinds of gray areas that HB228 has now clarified. See the section of HB228 about display of a firearm. The lawful display of a firearm in such a situation might be all that is necessary to de-fuse the situation.
The article says "Law abiding citizens may easily acquire a concealed weapons permit." Our question is this. If this is true, then will the same officers who wrote the article persuade sheriff Anderson to give the permit to the person in question who was denied the permit on political grounds? You guys are supposed to uphold the law. Are you going to uphold ALL laws for EVERYONE, or are you going to play favorites, or knuckle under to your boss?
Either we have a nation ruled by law, or a nation ruled by men. Which is it? If we have a nation ruled by laws, then EVERYONE needs to obey the law, including the sheriff, and all citizens, but especially law enforcement officers. Once the sheriff and law enforcement officers start twisting the law to suite their own purposes, we then have immediate loss of safety in the community. We then become subject to the rule of men, and we then have immediate loss of freedom in our community and country. Itís just this kind of situation that incites people to do stupid things that reduce the "peace and good order" of a community. Is this an unintended consequence that you should consider? Will the sheriff someday pick on someone that is not as level headed and as law abiding as his current target, and start a conflagration in our county?
The officers try to make you believe the bill would make it less safe for law enforcement. NOT true. They sang that same song back in 1991 when the concealed carry law was first passed. They made statements to the effect that there might be blood in the streets. Thatís propaganda. None of that happened, and the legislature isnít buying it. Both House and Senate have now passed HB228 although in different versions, and the bill is now in a conference committee to hammer out the differences.
The officers say it will make the prosecution of violent crimes more difficult. Not true again. There is no change in the laws prohibiting felons from carrying a firearm. Itís all scare tactics. These officers, some of whom evidently donít want their names published, evidently donít want law abiding people carrying concealed. Guns donít commit crimes. People commit crimes. Law officers would benefit greatly by having many law abiding citizens carrying firearms, and the history of that everywhere, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that crime goes way down when citizens are armed.
The officers say permit-less concealed carry would be "one of the lesser issues for law enforcement and our communities". Why then did they make such a big deal of it? Why did they use the scare tactic of mentioning convicted felons carrying concealed? They canít even remember from one paragraph to the next what they said. This is a mark of a propagandist! I am beginning to believe they didnít write the article at all. I suspect they had help from the paid lobbyist at their disposal.
The rest of the article about display of a firearm makes no sense whatsoever. The reason is that people who have been denied a permit by the sheriff, ARE ALLOWED TO CARRY OUT IN THE OPEN, inside the same "official boundaries of a city or town", unless they are a convicted felon. So what changes by passing the display section? The only thing that changes is that a law-abiding person is now protected from being charged with displaying a firearm. That protection is long overdue. The officers say "We are opening up loopholes for the criminally minded, who only need to claim they acted in self defense." Wrong again. Those criminals are already prohibited from carrying a weapon, whether openly or concealed. The other point is that they will do it anyway, because they are criminals and donít give a damn about the law. So what changes? Only the ability of a prosecutor to charge a law abiding person with a crime they are not guilty of by displaying their firearm for self defense. It comes down to the issue of freedom. Do you have the right to show your gun? The law says you do, but there are those that donít want you to. Again, do we have a rule of law, or a rule of men?
Regarding the claim of self-defense, either we have the right to self-defense or we donít. Either we are innocent until proven guilty or we arenít. It seems that prosecutors want you to be guilty until you prove yourself innocent. It seems they want to have the ability to heap trumped up charges on you and make you pay some lawyer big money to dig you out from under those charges. The bill just makes the law officers investigating the incident responsible to collect and NOT ignore evidence that would tend to prove self defense. Again, either we have a blind trust that each investigator can be trusted implicitly to do everything right, (rule of men) or we can spell it out in the law, which is what the rule of law is all about.
The officers were right when they said "Citizens did not commit these crimes; criminals do". Itís the law-abiding citizen that needs the protection of the laws. Criminals donít really care what is written in the law books. They have made up their minds to ignore the law and do what they want. They will carry their guns regardless of the law, and they will carry concealed regardless of the law. Look at the states that have passed permit-less concealed carry. Their crime rates have gone down, and their law enforcement officers are not less safe.
In conclusion, this article was a scare tactic. Itís a lot of scare propaganda. Lots of it is just not true. Then there is the fact that 12 officers were not willing to put their names in the paper in support of the letter. We want to know the name of each and every officer.
We think you owe us that, so we can contact you and try to convince you of the truth. Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
Law-abiding citizens carrying lawfully makes for safety because criminals will go elsewhere to commit their crimes when they are aware of that fact.