Subject: Letter to the Editor - National Parks carry
Date: Sat, 06 Dec 2008 15:19:37 -0700

Dear MSSA Friends,

I sent this letter to the Missoulian and the Helena Independent Record. If you see this Michael Jamison story in any other Montana papers, let me know which and I'll send to them too.



Dear Editor,

(296 words)

Michael Jamison's story about the new federal guns rule for National Parks demonstrates why people are deserting conventional media for Internet news and facts.

This skewed story offers 22 direct or indirect quotes from rule change opponents, three quotes from necessarily neutral officials implementing the new rule, and three quotes from rule supporters. Many more Montana citizens (and our entire congressional delegation) supported the rule change than opposed it. Nevertheless, Jamison turned properly balanced reporting into a rant against the new rule.

In his apparent zeal to slant this story, Jamison skipped his homework, resulting in serious factual errors.

For example, Jamison declares, "State law requires only that an applicant be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years old and a resident of Montana for six months or more." (Emphasis added.) Jamison's insertion of "only" renders this statement false. There are many other requirements, including that permit applicants provide references for good character, employment and residence history, proof of safe gun handling training, and more. Clearly Jamison wishes Missoulian readers to believe, incorrectly, that concealed weapon permits are distributed in Montana like grocery store coupons.

At least Jamison cites Chris Paolino of DoI for one glaring error, “You have to have a concealed weapons permit.” Not true. The actual rule adopted by DoI says concealed carry in Parks will be " ... in accordance with the laws of the state in which the national park area, or a portion of it, is located..." Montana law exempts people outside the limits of cities or towns from the needing a permit to legally carry a concealed weapon.

A person can find a plethora of fact-challenged opinion blogs Online. The Missoulian isn't needed for that. How about some professionalism? Get the facts right. Leave opinions on the Opinion Page.

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
author, Gun Laws of Montana
P.O. Box 4924
Missoula, Montana 59806