MT Gov. in support of semiautomatics ban

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Sunday morning he’d support a ban on semiautomatic firearms.

On  CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper, the host asked Bullock, a Democrat, if he would support such a ban. “You know, I would, Jake,” Bullock said.

“If we really step back for a minute, I think most folks, be it in Montana or elsewhere, that are firearms owners want to keep themselves and their families safe.”

Semiautomatic firearms have been used in mass shootings around the country, including a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year that killed 17. After that shooting, many in Bullock’s party  have called for a ban and introduced legislation to do so.

On Sunday morning, Ronja Abel, a spokeswoman for Bullock, said the governor sees a ban on assault rifles as protecting safety while preserving the rights of gun owners.

“Gov. Bullock is doing what most Americans are right now — reflecting on how we got to the point where mass shootings are a common event  — and trying to find a way to stop it,” Abel said. “Like many Montanans, Bullock is a gun owner and a hunter and he personally doesn’t see the need for these kinds of firearms for hunting or personal safety.

"There are things we can do to keep guns out the hands of people who shouldn’t have them without taking privately owned weapons from those who legally own them.”

In an op-ed this spring, Bullock made a significant change in his views on gun policy by endorsing universal background checks.  

He’d previously opposed them during his 2016 re-election bid. Bullock has not spoken publicly about an assault rifle ban before.

“Let’s focus on what works. Most gun owners are law abiding, yet too often guns get into the wrong hands. That’s why the first step ought to be universal background checks and cracking down on straw purchases of guns,”  Bullock wrote in the opinion piece  that first appeared in newspapers that are part of the USA Today Network in May.

In the opinion piece, Bullock described feeling ”paralyzed” in the spring of 1994 when he was told his 11-yearold nephew had been shot and killed outside a Butte elementary school. He also wrote about the tradition of hunting in Montana, saying his son shot his first deer last fall while practicing the “fundamentals of fair chase” and following hunter safety principles.

Some see Bullock’s changing views on firearms as a shift to better position the two-term governor and former state attorney general for a presidential bid in 2020.

Last week  Bullock spoke at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox  at the Iowa State Fair. There he  discussed his efforts  to  dark money in Montana politics and painted himself as a Democrat who spends time talking to voters who don’t always agree with him.

Bullock won re-election in 2016 in a state Republican President Donald Trump won by 20 points that year and told the crowd in Iowa he’d be electable in Trump country. But he sidestepped a question from the crowd asking if he’d run for president in 2020.

“I do have a story of how I’ve been able to bring people together, and I think that’s in part what our country desperately needs,” Bullock said. “ … Right now what I’m doing is listening and that’s honestly as far as it goes."

On Sunday, Bullock said he also wants to see other efforts to reduce gun violence, such as red flag laws and age and magazine restrictions in addition to universal background checks.

“Let’s begin with everybody wants to keep themselves and their families safe and let’s try to find those values where we can move things forward,” Bullock told Tapper.

Abel said those efforts would increase safety swiftly.

“We also need to take steps that would make an immediate impact on keeping kids and families safe including strengthening background checks and NICS; closing gun show loopholes and cracking down on straw purchases of guns; keeping guns away from domestic abusers and passing red flag laws; and looking at age restrictions for certain guns,” Abel said.

In his time as governor, starting in 2013, the state Legislature has proposed more than 30 bills related to access to and use of firearms, firearms safety and economic development related to firearms.

Since 1999,  nearly 100 pieces of gun-related legislation have been introduced. Most were aimed at loosening restrictions on concealed-carry permits, increasing the number of places guns are allowed, opening up the state's "stand your ground" laws, increasing shooting range funding and enshrining the right to hunt in the Montana Constitution. A high percent of the bills were brought by Republicans; only 17 of the bills were carried by Democrats.

Bills that have become law during Bullock's tenure include offering tax breaks to manufacturers  of firearms, making  information provided to get concealed weapons permits confidential,  eliminating a fingerprinting requirement  to renew concealed weapon permits and setting a timeline for the process, keeping doctors from  asking patients about owning firearms, clarifying it is legal to  use suppressors  to shoot coyotes and  letting permanent residents who aren't citizens  apply for concealed weapon permits.

Bullock has vetoed several firearms-related bills. That includes bills that would  blank" let a person carry a firearm on U.S. Postal Service Property, allow people eligible to own guns to  carry them without concealed-carry permits, allow legislators to conceal-carry handguns on  state property, allow people to carry concealed weapons in restaurants that sell alcohol, prohibit enforcement of new federal gun laws by Montana law enforcement officers,  prohibit state enforcement of any federal ban  on semiautomatic firearms and magazines and allow students with permits to carry concealed weapons on state college campuses.

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    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
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    Ross Orchards, located at 111 North Street in Fromberg, is proud to announce the opening of a farm stand this Fall. The orchard will be open Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sundays noon - 5 p.m. starting Sept. 21 and closing Oct. 13. The orchard is working in conjunction with the Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill and Red Lodge Ales to offer fun, family-friendly events.   Every weekend apples, fresh apple cider pressed with apples from the orchard, apple pastries, local honey, food, hard cider, and beer will be available.  There will also be pumpkins and a variety of local produce for sale. Additionally, each weekend will have a different event. Sept. 21 - 22 – Cider and Salutations yoga 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Sept. 28 – A farm to table dinner at 5 p.m. catered by the Last Chance Pub’s chef Kevin McNourlin. The dinner will feature local foods paired with cider. Contact info@lastchancecider.com to reserve seats (limit 40) Oct. 5 - 6 - Kidz Dayz. Bounce house, pumpkin carving, face painting and tractor rides through the orchard. Oct. 12- Orchard run 5k. A family-friendly run/walk through Ross Orchards. Visit redlodgeales.com/orchard-days to sign up. Sam Hoffmann, President of Red Lodge Ales, remarked, “it has been fun to get to know John, Laura, Hilary, and Elizabeth Ross over the last ten plus years. Together we have pruned, picked apples, and made cider on a home brew level and now commercially. We are proud to share our work with the public.” John Ross, owner of Ross Orchards, adds, “The orchard has always been a source of pride and happiness for me.  Our family has enjoyed working with Sam and Lindsey Hoffmann and their employees. We look forward to the success of Orchard days.” Contact for more info: John Ross 406-671-9614, johnwalkerross@gmail.com; Sam Hoffmann 406-425-4607, sam@redlodgeales.net; Lindsey Hoffmann 406-425-3734, lindseyhoffmann406@yahoo.com  
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