Dear Governor Gianforte,
58 percent of American adults report that they or someone they care for has experienced gun violence in their lifetime.
We are survivors. We are survivors of the country’s gun violence epidemic. Gun violence has changed our lives, families, and communities with its devastation. We are part of a community which includes 58% of all adults in our country.
You might not know us personally. You might not see us in your daily life. But, we are here. We are in every city, every town, and every corner of our great state.
It is from this position that we are pleading with you to veto HB 258, a bill which would prohibit Montana state and local law enforcement from assisting in the enforcement of any new federal public safety laws.
Nullifying federal law is unconstitutional and provisions in the bill would prevent law enforcement officers from protecting their communities from gun violence and encourage extremists to defy federal gun laws, including laws that keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
In an average year, 208 people die by guns in Montana.
With over 200 gun deaths per year, Montanans need proven gun safety laws to end this public health crisis, but under a nullification law, Montana law enforcement officers would be discouraged from assisting federal authorities in making sure people who have dangerous histories don’t have access to a firearm. We deserve to be protected by the same national gun safety laws as everyone else in our country.
Montana has the 8th highest rate of gun deaths in the United States.
Montana’s gun suicide rate is more than 2 times that of the national gun suicide rate.
Gun violence costs Montana $1.4 billion each year, of which $42.3 million is paid by taxpayers.
Montana has the eighth highest rate of gun deaths in the country and 85 percent of these deaths are gun suicides. In fact, Montana’s gun suicide rate is more than two times that of the national gun suicide rate. The high rate of gun violence in the state also costs $1.4 billion each year, of which $42.3 million is paid by taxpayers. With this extreme legislation, this cost could rise as gun violence does.
But these numbers don’t tell the whole story. This session, our neighboring states of Idaho and Wyoming proposed similar bills, but the bills were ultimately defeated and deemed too extreme. Law enforcement across the country have also come out to oppose these bills because they would make their own jobs more difficult and dangerous.
This isn’t about politics or partisanship. Many of us come from diverse communities, backgrounds, and political ideologies, but what we all agree on is that no family should have to feel the pain of having someone taken from them by gun violence. A pain that we have endured for years. A pain that we know never goes away.
We know that Montana has a rich history of responsible gun ownership, and we know that most gun owners here support common-sense gun safety. We are only asking that you continue that tradition and veto legislation that would not only make us less safe, but would undermine our law enforcement officers who continue to be on the front lines of two public health crises — coronavirus and gun violence.
As a parent and a family man, you can understand our commitment to protecting our communities and families from further gun violence. We all want to keep our loved ones safe — and right now vetoing this dangerous legislation is how you can help us do that.
Jennifer A, Jennifer B, Su, Dannette, Allison, Sheri, Beckie, Julia, and Shannon
Jennifer Allen is a volunteer with Moms Demand Action and a retired social worker in Kalispell, who still mourns the young man with schizophrenia she was trying to help, who shot and killed his brother and then himself.
Jennifer Beazer is a Moms Demand Action volunteer in Kalispell whose life was threatened by her husband with firearms as was the life of her young son. She moved to Montana following the brutal murders of Jane & Paul Taylor, her in-laws, at the hands of her ex-husband.
Rev. Su DeBree
Rev. Su DeBree is a Moms Demand Action volunteer and faith leader in Helena. Her daughter Gretchen was shot with a 357 magnum handgun in a domestic violence incident in Great Falls thirty years ago.
Dannette Fadness is a volunteer with Moms Demand Action in Missoula whose daughter was threatened with a gun by her intimate partner.
Allison Franz is a Moms Demand Action volunteer in Missoula whose 9-year-old cousin, Grady, died after he and another boy gained access to an unsecured firearm in Belgrade.
Sheri Sprigg is a volunteer with Moms Demand Action in Helena who has had 3 friends or relatives killed in gun violence -- Ian who died by gun suicide, Glen who was a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, and Gil who died in an unintentional shooting.
Beckie Squires is a Moms Demand Action volunteer in Helena whose niece’s 9-year-old son, Grady, was shot and killed with an unsecured handgun.
Julia Starrett is a volunteer with Moms Demand Action in Florence who witnessed and survived a drive-by shooting in her neighborhood when she was in college.
Shannon Thomas is a volunteer with Moms Demand Action and middle school teacher in Helena. She has suffered the loss of students to gun suicide, and the loss of a sense of safety in her job due to continued threats of gun violence.
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