Political Gossip, Satire, and Analysis from MT's Capital City "…a viral sensation…"–Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos "Among the best state-based political blogs in the nation."–Washington Post "MT Cowgirl gets more scoops than anyone. The online voice of the left in Montana." –Billings Gazette
David Lenio is the white -supremacist, 9/11 conspiracy theorist, and holocaust denier who tweeted comments saying he wants to execute “grade school students” and “shoot up a school” and a synagogue, and put “two in the head” of a rabbi or Jewish leader. He also said he hoped to go on a killing rampage until “cops take me out.”
When they arrested this white supremacist, he had just finished a day of snowboarding in Montana. He had marijuana and a pipe in his van (along with jugs of urine). He worked as a cook in a local restaurant, and had three guns. He had on Sunday retrieved ammunition and two rifles—a bolt-action and a semi-automatic—from his storage locker.
Lenio even threatened the guy who uncovered his threats on Twitter.
That guy is Jonathan Hutson who has a background in investigative journalism and now serves as communications director for the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence. He is also the dad of a first grader. After Hutson discovered Lenio’s threats–and endured threats against Hutson himself and Hutson’s kids– FBI agents and local law enforcement officials in Montana and two other states were able to track Lenio down.
Meanwhile, there are just a few of the gun bills still being pushed forward by the MT legislature:
Legalize guns and rifles in office parking lots. HB 505 the official title of which is “establish employee safe travel to work laws”, by Matthew Monforton (TEA-Bozeman)
Lift the prohibition on carrying concealed weapons in bars, parks, and schools. HB 371 by Rep. Kerry White (TEA-Bozeman)
Legalize guns on college campuses. by Rep. Cary Smith SB 143 (R-TEA Billings)
Allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon. HB 298 Bill Harris (R-Winnett)
Nullify all federal gun laws. HB 203 by Rep. Art Wittich (R-TEA Bozeman)
Encourage the manufacturing of ammunition to prevent a national shortage. HB 122 by Matthew Rosedale (R-TEA Glendive)
Hutson shared some of Lenio’s tweets with the Cowgirl blog, and they are indeed disturbing. You can see them below the fold (click continue reading):
When I was teaching school, I used to insist that students do their homework. Don’t read parts and then tell me what the book means, I’d tell them. Don’t write a skeletal essay and tell me you’ve thoroughly explored the topic.
When it comes to SB 143, the “campus carry” bill, supporters’ comments show they haven’t done their homework.
“Our constitution gives the regents broad authority,” the bill’s sponsor says, “but it doesn’t give them the authority to interfere with our Second Amendment rights.”
Actually, Montana’s constitution is quite clear on the regents’ authority: it’s not “broad” or “general,” as the sponsor likes to say. It’s “full” — as in “total,” “complete.”
Don’t believe me? Do your homework. The transcripts of the 1972 Constitutional Convention leave no doubt why the delegates chose the word “full.” After decades of watching Montana legislatures interfere with the management, employees, and curriculum on university campuses, the delegates wanted to erect a constitutional firewall between the regents and the legislature. In court challenges since, that firewall has stood.
But does the regents’ full authority to manage the university system allow them to ignore our Constitutional rights? Of course not. But, again, do your homework. The United States Supreme Court, not the Montana legislature, clarifies the Bill of Rights. As SB 143 notes, in the Court’s Heller decision, Justice Scalia and his majority held that individuals have a Second Amendment right to keep and bear firearms in self-defense. But as SB 143 does not note, Scalia qualified that right:
[N]othing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings ….
Justice Scalia went out of his way in a decision that vastly expanded the Court’s previous rulings limiting Second Amendment freedoms to instruct us that those freedoms always have been and should continue to be limited under certain conditions. One of those conditions is the existence of “sensitive places.”
The question for the regents, therefore, is this: Are college campuses sensitive places with respect to the presence of firearms? No doubt the following factors would come into play in making that decision: the immaturity and inexperience of the majority of the traditional college population … the cramped, often interchangeable and easily transgressed living quarters in the dorms … the difficulty many students experience when transitioning from a close-knit, supervised family setting to the broader, less familiar nucleus of campus life … the stress and expense of the academic environment … the hugely higher incidence of alcohol abuse … the facts that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for this age group and 85% of suicide attempts with a firearm are successful … the fact that, in the event of a campus shooting, law enforcement officers may end up shooting armed students, on hand to provide “friendly fire.” That’s just for starters.
Montana’s board of regents decided college campuses were sensitive places long before that phrase became a term of art in Heller. In 1990 a freshman student at MSU, away from home for the first time, having trouble adjusting to the new environment, and having been taunted by a couple of peers in the dorm, came home from a night of drinking and decided to retaliate against his tormenters. Firearm in tow, he burst into a dorm room and shot two students to death in their sleep. As it turned out, they weren’t the students who had messed with him. He got the wrong room. But the two students are still dead and the former freshman is still in prison. The regents enacted their restrictions on firearms on campus sometime after that incident. There hasn’t been a shooting on a Montana University System campus since.
It isn’t the glossing over of constitutional intent or the selective reading of Heller that bothers me about the way SB 143 is wending its way through the legislature. It’s the failure to use the appropriate venue to advance this issue.
The legislature is not the appropriate body to “clarify the role of the board of regents,” which SB 143 avows is its main purpose. Clarifying what our constitution means is the role of our courts. And the legislature is not the appropriate body to determine whether, when and where college students can bring guns on campus. The appropriate body is the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education.
Maybe the regents should reverse the campus firearms policy in the wake of Heller. (I don’t think so, but I’m not a regent.) Maybe the regents should make changes on our campuses that make it easier for students who want to go hunting early in the morning to get their rifles earlier, in order to address the complaint of the one college student at the Senate hearing. (Makes sense to me, but I’m not a regent.) Maybe the regents should make exceptions with respect to married student housing residents in certain neighborhoods, in response to the complaint of the one teaching assistant at the Senate hearing. (I’d like to delve into that, but no need: I’m not a regent.)
The cardinal rule of all homework assignments is this: Follow the directions. None of the proponents of SB 143 or the legislators supporting it have followed the directions our constitution lays out for all of us. They haven’t gone to the board of regents with their concerns. And that’s where they should start. If they aren’t satisfied with the board’s response, they can turn to the courts, and their cause will be unencumbered by the toss-it-out firewall breach SB 143 provides, courtesy of the Montana legislature. A much easier assignment.
A school superintendent is Sanders County is causing an uproar after he proposed to install armed volunteers in the local school – an idea so ludicrous even the NRA has abandoned it.
When new school superintendent Josh Patterson gathered the townspeople together to discuss his plan Sheriff Tom Rummel, who has made headlines for his extremist views and who the Militia of Montana claims is a supporter, offered to train the volunteers himself. He even said he has an anonymous donor who will donate the ammunition for training and use in the school, the Sanders County Ledger reports (Page 1,Page 2.)
Sheriff Tom Rummel, right.
When asked for reasons for the armed volunteers, Josh Patterson and Tom Rummel offered a standard TEA Party cliche “when seconds count, law enforcement are minutes away.” According to one retired teacher who attended the meeting - a proponent of the idea shouted “lets go pistol packin’.”
But even Patterson admits opposition is growing – while he had first claimed that early meetings included only supporters, the opponents now outnumber them nearly 2-1.
What’s more, a committee in the nearby town of Thompson Falls has already declined Sheriff Rummel’s proposal to arm teachers, so why he would propose a more extreme idea in Noxon isn’t clear. Nor is it clear why no one is asking the obvious question – is the anonymous ammunition donor the Militia of Montana? And will members of the militia be among the volunteers?
There are a couple of reasons why this is the obvious question. Tom Rummel made headlines when he urged sheriffs across the country against enforcing federal laws . He went on to write that sheriffs should consider actually blocking federal law enforcement officers from enforcing the law either.
In a 2011 radio interview, Militia of Montana leader John Trochmann says that Sheriffs’ posses are a new face of the militia movement. Trochmann describes the following conversation with Tom Rummel. You can click here to listen to his exact words starting at this portion of the interview when the host asks “what is going on now to give the Militia of Montana hope?”
I was sitting with my sheriff in a meeting–we have a little organization called the Sanders Natural Resource Council–which is going after the forrest service bringing a lawsuit against them right now and it just so happens that our sheriff attended the [Sanders County Resource Council] meeting, and I gave him a MOM calendar–a Militia of Montana calendar. It’s a freedom calendar that we handle. And on the back of it it says our name, and I said Tom, you perhaps only want one because you don’t want to put it up in your office because of the name that’s on the back.
And he looks at the name on the back, and he put his finger over Montana, and he says I wish it said Militia of Sanders County. So that gave us a little hope. But what he’s trying to put together, and we’re working with him, starting with a number veterans and CCW carriers to be under him as his posse– and that’s the safest way to do it until the sheriff gains some ground here to know how to operate properly. And that’s why we’re [the Militia of Montana] sending him to this informational center. Sheriff Richard Mack is putting it on, and that should give you a clue of how well it will be organized…
Are the sheriffs going to actually go out and arrest those people who are under federal authority blocking the roads saying fine, my county, you’re going to jail–the roads are unblocked? Are they actually going to do that and, if so, somewhere along the road we’re going to have a confrontation.
Absolutely, that’s what its all headed to is a confrontation– better sooner than later.
…What happens next?
Federal agents come in to arrest the sheriff and take him away, charge with at least four felonies, under the federal law. But the sheriff knowing his rights doesn’t have to allow that to happen, and that’s where the posse comes in to defend the sheriff. He’s got to have people around him. Our sheriff is looking for at least 300 guys around here. We only have 9 active deputies and they’re not going to do much with all the federal whores that come in.
2012 was a solid year for the North American Logic Shark. They got to rest from the stunt jumping the 2011 Legislature put them through, but as they say, there’s no rest for the delirious. Our logic shark sighting today comes from the House Judiciary Committee as they made a daring attempt at jumping yet another one (surprised face goes here).
Our daredevil o’the day is Rep Cary Smith, R-Billings, whose bill, HB 240, which seeks to allow guns on college campuses.
But wait, I hear you say, can’t you already carry guns on college campus in Montana? Well, in the strictest interpretation of your question – no, you can’t just carry them around everywhere on campuses. But in the real world, sensible spirit of your question – yeah, yeah you can. Continue reading →Tweet
As the 2013 legislature arrives, here are some bills that I’m told are already being drafted by certain legislators. Some I like, some not. You be the judge. (For those new to the Cowgirl Blog, referring to the 2011 Nutjob Bills may provide some context).
1. Joint Resolution of the House and Senate, acknowledging the earth is significantly greater than 6,000 years old.
2. Joint Resolution, declaring global warming to be bad.
3. Bill requiring all political funding sources to be disclosed, for all groups and candidates, period.
4. Bill requiring mandatory counseling prior to divorce, for candidates running in a GOP gubernatorial primary.
5. Bill forbidding any GOP legislator who votes to take health care from others from benefitting in any way from any aspect of taxpayer funded health care.
6. State income tax increase for large corporations and Montana’s making more than $250,000.
7. Bill to remove carbon monoxide detector in the Governor’s office.
8. Bill to require legislators opposed to medical marijuana to take a lie detector test, about whether they’ve ever smoked it, and how much they smoked.
9. Bill to require a posting, in Capitol Rotunda, of all federal farm subsidy payments to legislators. (Did you know they are mostly TEA Partiers?)
10. Bill to require school children to carry hand-thrown spears and guns with silencers.
11. Constitutional amendment limiting the number of legislative referenda to three per election with citizen-authorized measures with greatest number of signatures taking priority; and raising the vote threshold needed for the legislature to send a measure directly to the ballot, to supermajority.
12. Bill requiring security checkpoints at all public bathrooms, to inspect all transgender Montanans.
13. Bill to establish dog kennel on Capitol grounds, to perpetuate dog-friendly state government.
14. Constitutional Amendment to require use of branding iron by Governor when vetoing.
15. Bill to allow fishing with silencers (and semiautomatics).
16. Bill to allow legislators to be paid in gold dust, pixie stix, or cattle.
When the Daily Inter Lake asked Rep. Jerry O’Neil yesterday about the Newtown school shooting tragedy, the Columbia Falls Republican responded with his concerns about divorce.
O’Neil noted that Connecticut gunman Adam Lanza, 20, was from a divorced home. Lanza apparently got the weapons he used from his mother, who enjoyed shooting sports. He shot her to death in her bed and then went to the school.
O’Neil claimed his divorce law would keep more families together, but it never passed.
Rep O’Neil believes that it is too easy for women to get a divorce in Montana. He was a big supporter of House Bill 438 which has been repeatedly voted down by his own colleagues. Under the proposed law, women would be required to remain married to drug addicts, those who gamble away the family’s life savings, drug dealers, criminals, and just plain bad people–until they had undergone eight weeks mandatory counseling.
To be sure, Rep. O’Neil believes divorce isn’t the only cause of school shootings in America. He believes they are caused by too few, rather than too many, guns in schools. He supports legislation to turn teachers into armed soldiers.
But O’Neil doesn’t stop there. The Montana Republican told the birther website World Net Daily today that he is pushing for two new amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The amendments would make it more difficult for the federal government to regulate firearms and to sign international arms treaties.
O’Neil is concerned about “the growing power of international treaties” and wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to prevent international treaties from being “used to override the U.S. Constitution”–and its second amendment. O’Neil says his other proposal “gives the states the right to make whatever guns they want so long as [firearms] stay inside the[sic] own borders.”Tweet
Rep. David Howard (R-Park City) believes that school shootings in America are caused by too few, rather than too many, guns in school. He wants to know why the sign on the right isn’t posted in front of ever school in America.
On his Facebook page, Howard explains his views on gun free schools:
This is like zebra’s declaring a section of the Serengeti to be a Lion free zone! They would go out and mark the boundaries, lie down and relax. The lions on the other hand, would be rejoicing and putting out signs that would say “Defenseless Stupid Zebra’s Ahead”.
The godless liberals are forcing America’s kids to be sitting ducks. Sad!
Howard is backing a piece of legislation, along with other Montana Republicans, that would allow students and teachers to bring side arms to school. This is one of several measures that the GOP believes will make for a safer society. The other is a bill to allow concealed weapons in bars, banks, schools and state government buildings. These were vetoed by Schweitzer last session, and will likely be vetoed again.
What Howard and company cannot come to terms with is this basic fact: that in places like Sweden, Finland, Canada, Germany, England and many other strong democracies, there is plenty of hunting and gun ownership, but virtually no school shootings and in fact barely any gun violence at all. And no, they don’t accomplish it by arming elementary school students. They do it through common sense regulation. No assault weapons, no gun show loopholes where you can pay cash for a gun without any record of the transaction. No 100-round clips of ammo.
The fun part of the upcoming legislative session will be to observe the diminished power that Gary Marbut will wield. Marbut runs an outfit called Montana Shooting Sports Association, a group he formed to compete with the NRA which he views as too liberal an organization. He wants guns everywhere, and is the force behind bills like the ones that Howard is pushing. But it’s crazy stuff that even Montanans, who are gun purists, don’t really go in for.
Rep. Howard is the Chair of the House Human Services Committee of the Montana Legislature.
For your reading pleasure, here are some of the major pieces of legislation that have been put forward by the Tea Party Republicans who are now in control of the legislature. This is not a joke. These are real bills, and they are currently taking priority in the Montana legislature. Enjoy.