I am careful to say “allegedly” both because Bergren is innocent until proven guilty and because I've seen such sketchy media reports convey facts incorrectly.
What is curious is this: In 2009, MSSA got its omnibus self defense bill (HB 228) passed, which included a section declaring that (proper) defensive display of a firearm is not a crime (better to make a bad guy go away with a firearm display than for someone to get shot).
45-3-111. Openly carrying weapon — display — exemption. (1) Any person who is not otherwise prohibited from doing so by federal or state law may openly carry a weapon and may communicate to another person the fact that the person has a weapon. (2) If a person reasonably believes that the person or another person is threatened with bodily harm, the person may warn or threaten the use of force, including deadly force, against the aggressor, including drawing or presenting a weapon. (3) This section does not limit the authority of the board of regents or other postsecondary institutions to regulate the carrying of weapons, as defined in 45-8-361(5)(b), on their campuses.
In that session, Bob Bergren was Speaker of the House and voted AGAINST HB 228 on both Second Reading and Third Reading.
Now, it appears as if Bergren is relying on the defensive display protection of HB 228 to justify the conduct that landed him in jail, according to the Great Falls Tribune.
I carefully offer no opinion about Bergren's alleged conduct. I trust that the law, as written, will prevail, and that the wheels of justice will work properly.
But, it will be ironic if Bergren must rely on a law he opposed in the Legislature in order to avoid prison, and it will be interesting to see how this situation plays out. Watching this …
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Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) is the primary political advocate for Montana gun owners. Visit: www.mtssa.org