A close look at Governor Bullock’s Emergency Declaration demonstrates that, like many other emergency orders throughout the country, it will allow the state to suspend law, force evacuation, and necessary travel bans. However, according to MSSA President, Gary Marbut, the emergency declaration does not permit the confiscation of firearms (as some fear).
The Montana Daily Gazette posted the memo sent from Governor Bullock to Speaker Hertz yesterday on the Gazette Facebook page (see below). It is entitled, “Brief Overview of Executive Order No.2-2020.”
The statement reads that the Governor will have the authority during the emergency declaration to do the following:
- suspend any law regarding commerce or business
- suspend any state agency regulation
- compel the evacuation of any population of people
- restrict travel into or out of an affected community
Additionally, the statement specifies the responsibility of local health departments during such a crisis and they include:
- screening and testing for the virus
- mandating isolation and quarantine
- collecting and maintaining “health information”
The Montana Daily Gazette contacted a local health department official who spoke on condition of anonymity. When asked if speculations that health departments could mandate vaccination, they responded, “There is no vaccine, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
It is unknown to what length health departments can go in screening, testing, and mandating isolation and quarantine under the executive order. When asking the health department official they answered, “We can already have the police force a quarantine order. All the executive order does is allow the governor to tap into emergency funds to do so.”
Indeed, the source seems correct. The chief purpose of Bullock’s emergency order is to allow him access to 16 million dollars in state resources set aside for such emergencies.
Some Montanans have speculated in social media if Governor Bullock’s executive order of statewide emergency allows for the confiscation of firearms. According to Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) president, Gary Marbut, it does not.
In an email sent out earlier today, Marbut assured the public that Montana law prevents such an action, even in a time of declared emergency. Marbut writes, “You may be interested to know that after the Hurricane Katrina fiasco in Louisiana, MSSA got a bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law that prohibits confiscation of firearms in a declared emergency.
Readers can see that law here.
The law, which reads, “Confiscation Of Firearm By Government Prohibited — Private Right Of Action — Costs And Expenses” says:
Following a declaration of an emergency or disaster pursuant to this chapter, a peace officer or other person acting or purporting to act on behalf of the state or a political subdivision of the state may not take a confiscation action.
As the law reads, anyone who has their firearms confiscated (with the exception of those already prohibited from owning them or in an act of self-defense) may sue for damages after the emergency order has been lifted in their local court.