Some folks have asked if the Montana Sportsmen Alliance “…supports the second amendment.” That is indeed a broad question, given the numerous political and social issues that firearms ownership and use means these days. The short answer is yes. But this bears some explanation.
Firearms have been and are an integral part of Montana’s history, traditions and culture, and certainly our hunting heritage. Our membership includes hunters, target and trap shooters, collectors, outdoor writers, gunsmiths, wildlife professionals, law enforcement officers and a wide array of other folks whose avocations and vocations revolve around guns. As such, MSA unequivocally supports the ownership and use of firearms, the second amendment (as well as the other 27 and the Montana Constitution) that makes such a right as well as all lawful, appropriate, and ethical uses ownership entails.
We are proud that our membership crosses social, economic and political lines. It has always been our belief that conservation is not the sole property of a particular political party or ideology but of all the people. Our membership has proven this time and time again when members who, in other political or social situations or discussions, couldn’t be farther apart come together as MSA. We are unified on behalf of fish and wildlife, wild lands, good stewardship and management, access and in sum, keeping the “Best” in “The Last Best Place.”
The MSA was founded and operates as a conservation organization. We began in order to fill what we believed was a serious void in the effective and informed advocacy for the wild resources that we, as Montanans, hold dear to our way of life, and our ability to enjoy and enhance our outdoor legacy. We saw —and still see— a growing threat to appropriate, reasoned, science-based management and opportunity and as such have tried to remain a focused, unified voice. We therefore pick our battles and direct our efforts and limited resources to those issues which we believe are fundamental to our purpose.
Firearms — their ownership, use, possession, misuse, et al— have hit the spotlight both nationally and here in Montana. There are many organizations whose sole purpose is to work exclusively in those arenas. MSA has, at times, allied itself with some of these groups in efforts where they align with our main conservation purposes. We opposed using suppressors for big game hunting because of ethical and legal issues- not because of gun use or ownership. We oppose I-177 because we believe it has ramifications for hunting, constitutes fundamentally flawed wildlife management and public policy and would further politicize the already over-politicized resource management process. But because of the huge array of sub and side issues, MSA must remain true to its primary conservation mission and not divide its efforts. Just as important, however, we whole-heartedly support and encourage our members to individually follow their beliefs and consciences and to be actively involved with whatever groups they chose and their issues.
So again, does the MSA support the second amendment? Absolutely.