Monday, February 18, 2013

The Most Serious Threat to Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms [Gary Marbut]

By Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association

I want to inform you about what I think is the most serious threat to our right to Keep and Bear Arms in the U.S. today, much more serious and real than anything Obama or Senator Dianne Feinstein can hope to get through Congress...

Without ammunition, ammunition components, and especially smokeless powder, our firearms are just awkward and expensive clubs – of no real use.

You may not know that there are only two facilities in the U.S. today that manufacture smokeless powder. All the rest is imported, from Canada, from Australia, from Scandinavia, from Israel, and elsewhere.

The sole two facilities in the U.S. are the General Dynamics plant in St. Marks, Florida, and the Alliant/ATK plant in Connecticut. Both General Dynamics and Alliant/ATK are giant government contractors. They make aircraft carriers, space vehicles and other very high-dollar stuff for the U.S. government.

If Obama were to lean on the Secretary of Defense to float the concern to General Dynamics and Alliant that their next aircraft carrier, submarine or space vehicle contract might be disapproved as long as they are supplying smokeless powder for civilian consumption and use, those sources would dry up overnight.

Tomorrow, the Secretary of State could sign a letter declaring a moratorium on the import of smokeless powder while the federal government studies the possible connections to “terrorism” or such. That supply would end immediately.

These two strokes could be accomplished without any bill ever being introduced in or passed by Congress, and without even an Executive Order – just simple administrative action.

Some people thought I was prescient when I wrote the Nation's first shooting range protection act for Montana in 1990 (passed in 1991), and when I wrote the Firearms Freedom Act for Montana in 2004 (passed in 2009).

I'm warning you now that our RKBA could be sunk administratively if we don't do something about it, now. I'm sounding the alarm!

That's why I've written HB 468, which will be up for public hearing before the Montana House Taxation Committee this coming Thursday. HB 468 is designed to encourage the production of smokeless powder, small arms primers, and cartridge brass in Montana.

Why is this encouragement needed? There are serious scale issues with the production of powder (and primers and brass, but especially powder). That's why there are only two powder manufacturers in the U.S. today. All of the small countries of Eastern Europe manufacture their own smokeless powder, but that manufacture is heavily subsidized by the state as a matter of state security, subsidized to overcome the scale issues.

HB 468 is an attempt to mimic those subsidies. It includes liability protection for manufacturers, access to all existing economic development programs in Montana, and a 20-year tax amnesty for any such business that starts in Montana (not including local share of property tax – politically undoable). It is because of the tax amnesty that HB 468 will come before the House Taxation Committee.

We will speak of HB 468 primarily as a jobs bill – that it will hopefully create jobs in Montana, jobs we don't have now and we hope HB 468 will stimulate.

HB 468 costs Montana nothing in terms of lost revenue, because there are no such businesses in Montana today (and I specifically did not include bullet or finished ammo manufacturers so I could pitch this to the Legislature as revenue-neutral).

My dream is to create a model (like our Shooting Range Protection Act and Montana Firearms Freedom Act did) that other states can clone to generate regional manufacture of powder, primers and brass across the U.S.

Does HB 468 actually sweeten the opportunity enough to stimulate the desired businesses here and overcome the scale issues? Honestly, I don't know for sure. It's my best first shot.

I only know that we'd danged well better do something to interdict this catastrophic threat to our RKBA. If I can foresee this threat, the would-be tyrants can foresee it too and act on it.

I really hope those of you who share my concern will make the effort to show up in Helena on Thursday to speak for HB 468 before the House Taxation Committee. It will meet at 9 AM. If you simply cannot be there, send messages to committee members.

The important points to hit, in testimony or messages, are: 1) the jobs HB 468 will hopefully create, 2) it costs the state nothing because the tax benefit will apply to no existing businesses, 3) independence for Montana and assist for the finished ammo manufacturers now existing in Montana, 4) the liability protection only extends that protection already in place in Montana law for finished ammunition manufacturers, and 5) the import to our RKBA (I recommend you not hit the RKBA as hard as I have stressed it to you here).

Thanks loads for reading this through. I really believe HB 468 is IMPORTANT to our RKBA.

Best wishes,
Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association


Anonymous said...

If they didn't think to do it before, they will now. There is NOTHING we can do about it, so perhaps instead of supplying them with ideas, perhaps we should keep these things unsaid.

feeblemind said...

What would prevent a third party from constructing their own smokeless powder plant? Perhaps the EPA would stop it before it was built?

What about imported and/or black market ammo? If they can't keep drugs out of the country how could they possibly keep the ammo out?

Wrench said...

Black markets always are suppliers of last resort when products become contraband. I would hope there will be a channel that would be accessible to obtain needed munitions: better have your physical
gold and silver ready for the trade...