Montana Referendum on Preemption, LR-130 Passes

Second Amendment Supporters Can Make A Major Montana Gain
Montana Referendum on Preemption, LR-130 Passes. Grassroots Beats Money

U.S.A.-( In the 2020 general election in Montana, the referendum on firearms preemption, LR-130, passed with 51% of the vote, 296,820 to 285,942. It was close. Montana went for President Trump with 57% of the vote.

On LR-130, Bloomberg and surrogates outspent Second Amendment supporters $1,409,439.11 to $50,493.06, or 28 to 1.

The massive spending wasn’t enough to keep the referendum from passing.

Montana voters have patched “loopholes” in the law which allowed local jurisdictions to pass ordinances infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.

Screenshot from, cropped and scaled by Dean Weingarten.

Gary Marbut has been the driving force behind Second Amendment activism in Montana. He founded the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA).

He explains LR-130 here:

Two current state laws limit cities’ and counties’ authority to regulate firearms, but they are not enough limitation. One law, 7-1-111(9), M.C.A., prohibits local governments from using “any power that applies to or affects the right to keep or bear arms.” BUT, it goes on to say, “‘except that a local government has the power to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons.” LR-130 will remove this “except” clause from the law.

The other law to be amended by LR-130 is 45-8-351, M.C.A. This law generally prohibits local gun control, BUT says that for “public safety purposes” a local government may adopt and enforce gun control measures in several ways. LR-130 will dramatically shorten this list of allowed exceptions. The net effect is that local governments will still be allowed to regulate unpermitted concealed weapons (people carrying concealed illegally inside city limits) and open carry into buildings owned and occupied by governmental entities. That’s it. If LR-130 is successful, local governments will no longer have alleged loopholes to exploit as Missoula tried with its universal background check ordinance and various “gun free zones” concerning “parks” and “public assemblies.”

The MSSA has been an extremely effective organization. They have been the organization most responsible for restoring the right to keep and bear arms in Montana. Over the last 33 years, MSSA and Gary Marbut have had an exemplary string of successes.

“I knew way in advance there was no way we could match Bloomberg with money. The only tool we could bring was grassroots activism.” Gary Marbut, 8 November, 2020

Gary created a camera-ready copy of a pocket card which could be printed at local shops. An activist could have 1000 printed for ten bucks. The copy was made available over the MSSA email network. It went viral in Montana. Gary estimates a quarter-million of the cards were distributed, at no cost to MSSA.

The drama started in September of 2016, when Missoula, the second-largest city in Montana, perhaps the most leftist, passed an ordinance requiring every firearm sale in the city to be approved of by the government with an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check. The ordinance claimed the loophole allowing local governments to restrict gun ownership from felons and the mentally incompetent allowed this authority.

In 2017, Montana AG Tim Fox ruled the ordinance was invalid under Montana law.

Missoula appealed to the Montana 4th Judicial District Court, where Judge Robert Deschamps held in favor of Missoula, in 2018. The decision was appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.

While the appeal was being processed in the courts, the legislature acted.

The Montana Legislature passed two bills to remove the “loophole” in early 2019. One bill HB 325, went to Governor Bullock for his signature. The other bill, HB 357, had identical statutory language but had a contingency clause to put the issue on the ballot, as LR-130, if Governor Bullock vetoed HB 325. Bullock vetoed the bill on 3 May 2019.

LR-130 was put on the ballot, as allowed by the Montana Constitution, for the 2020 election. Those pushing for a disarmed population filed a lawsuit against the measure. The Montana Supreme Court ruled the measure was lawful and clearly written, on August 27 of 2019.

After the referendum was approved, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the decision by Judge Robert Deschamps in the District Court in a separate decision. That decision rendered the Missoula ordinance without force, in October of 2019.

LR-130 was still on the ballot for 2020. It strengthened the right to arms in Montana by taking away local governments ability to create a patchwork of ordinances.

On 3 November 2020, it passed by 10,000 votes.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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It’s fantastic that the ridiculous amount of spending wasn’t enough to continue this gun control. What’s not great is that the vote was so close.

Elisa Delaurenti

Another excellent writeup, Mr. Weinegarten. We worked hard to get this Referendum passed.

Thank You for bringing it to light. Any State with preemption laws should be watching this.

Elisa Delaurenti
Legislative Project Coordinator
Montana Shooting Sports Association

Last edited 2 years ago by Elisa Delaurenti

I take it everyone will note that basically only four distinct hardcore leftist areas match the population for the rest of the entire State, and voted against constitutional rights! The upcoming civil war is not just going to be Democrat vs Republican, or Democrat vs libertarian, or democrat versus independent, it’s going to be metropolitan thugs versus freedom-loving rural folks. Those of us who loved and believed in freedom in the Constitution cannot continue to allow the metropolitan thugs to keep us under their thumbs! Washington state is a prime example of this dichotomy: the I-5 quarter of Puget Sound… Read more »

Dave in Fairfax

What are the chances of getting Deschamps tossed out?

Elisa Delaurenti


Elisa Delaurenti

Surely you mean Tester…..


Yes, Tester has to go. Unfortunately, he won’t be up for reelection for 2 more years. All the other important elections in Montana put conservative Republicans in office.


Jon Tester is not up for re-election until 2024.

Dave in Fairfax

Tester for sure, but I meant District Court Judge Judge Robert Deschamps. Is there a process you can initiate to remove him?

Dave in Fairfax

The Judge.


Deschamps is District Court judge in Missoula. Good luck getting him out of office. The liberals over there keep electing him. What does that tell you?


I voted for this and I am glad it passed , this will put a stop to liberal idiots trying to pass city ordinances that infringe on people’s rights. These leftist Marxist clowns destroy the cities and then go after rural peoples rights when we come to town . Not going to happen in the great state of Montana as a red wave made our position perfectly clear in Montana . Those who don’t like it should move to Portland and open a business in downtown Portland area .