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By Matt Manda

Montana Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines is rightfully known as one of the most conservation-minded senators in Washington, D.C. The senator recently joined NSSF’s Larry Keane for a virtual townhall hosted by NSSF PAC, where he told firearm and ammunition industry members a particularly special story about why the outdoors, conservation and hunting mean so much to him.

Sen. Daines spent years hunting the mountain woods of the Big Sky state with his children, he explained. His wife, Cindy, an “excellent shot herself,” never minded those outings, loving that he was spending quality time with their four kids. Things changed, though. Children grew and moved to attend college, and Cindy exclaimed, “Now that we’re empty-nesters. You’re my hunting buddy and we’re going together!”

That’s how it is with the Montanan. The outdoors and hunting are a special way of life to be preserved, protected and passed on. It’s why he takes his job as senator so seriously.

Big Sky View

Sen. Daines answered several questions and provided an update of what Washington, D.C., policymaking looks like right now amid the coronavirus pandemic. He offered insights into legislation under consideration and how they will affect the firearm industry’s economic footprint, which has a presence in every state.

The CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program have already been passed and signed by President Donald Trump, providing small businesses financial assistance as they weather the pandemic storm. Sen. Daines described the importance of targeted and focused aid to rural states like Montana, especially to healthcare and frontline workers spread across the vast state.

Sen. Daines also discussed the next legislative package being negotiated by the Senate. He said senators are mindful of the concerns he’s hearing from Montanans, specifically about financial assistance to state and local governments and liability protections for reemerging businesses. Keane agreed, telling members these were, “critical and reasonable protections for industry small businesses against trial lawyers.”

Montana Guns = Big Business

That’s especially true for Montana’s firearm manufacturers, where there’s the highest concentration of gun makers per capita. Montana is home to makers with loyal customers, including Nemo Arms, Falkor Defense, PROOF Research and Montana Precision Rifles, among others. In Montana, these represent more than 2,000 manufacturing and supplier jobs generating $270 million in economic output last year.

Those businesses paid more than $5 million last year in federal excise taxes invested in the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund. That’s part of the Pittman-Robertson Act where taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers totaled over $13 Billion since 1937 to fund conservation projects.

Sen. Daines discussed Senate efforts on two current conservation bills to put that money to work for hunters and outdoors recreationalists.

“A healthy forest is a managed forest, and forest management protects our animal populations and wildlife habitats,” he explained.

Both are important for Sen. Daines. First among these efforts is the John D. Dingell Conservation, Management and Recreation Act. Sen. Daines explained it is important policy that NSSF supported and Congress was able to enact in a bipartisan way. He also touted the Great American Outdoors Act, S. 3422, which would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and restore national parks by helping address the backlog of maintenance needs.

Sen. Daines explained these are bills that speak to our unique American character. “The one thing that makes America great is our public lands. It sets us apart from all other countries,” he said.

Interstate Transport & Discrimination

Last, Sen. Daines and Keane discussed several challenges facing America’s gun owners, especially when traveling. When planes inevitably are delayed, or worse cancelled, those law-abiding gun owners must claim their firearms and possibly stay over for the night, making them vulnerable for arrest in antigun, anti-reciprocity states.

That’s why he sponsored S. 3139, the Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act. It’s also why he cosponsored S. 69, the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2019 for national reciprocity to ensure gun rights don’t end at state borders.

Financial and technology discrimination by banking institutions and social media corporations caving to social justice warriors against the firearm businesses is a devasting trend to small and large businesses in the industry.

“This should be chilling for all those who believe in their Constitutional freedoms,” Sen. Daines said. Keane agreed, adding, “The public doesn’t support their issues at the ballot box. And when these folks can’t win legislatively, they go after the businesses they don’t like. It’s the mob mentality.”

It’s also why 19 senators, Sen. Daines included, signed a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Administrator of the Small Business Administration Jovita Carranza, and Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, warning them big banks could abuse the pandemic relief funds to discriminate against and deny financial services to politically-disfavored industries like the firearm and ammunition industry.

What’s on The Line

Sen. Daines’ reelection got more challenging when Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock announced in the eleventh hour he was running for the seat. Gov. Bullock, who said he would not run for Senate, flip-flopped after a last-minute visit to Montana from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Gov. Bullock also flip-flopped on the Second Amendment and now supports banning modern sporting rifles. It is now a margin-of-error race.

With the pro-firearm, pro-Second Amendment-rights majority so slim, stakes couldn’t be higher. Sen. Daines told industry members concerned about the future just how important their support is. Senate confirmations of judicial appointments, including lifetime Supreme Court nominations, make Senate seats crucial to preserving gun rights. He said the recent gun bans in Canada show what happens when gun control is unchecked. The alternative is unthinkable.

“Not with this president,” Sen. Daines explained. “Not with this [Republican-controlled] Senate. No ifs, ands or buts about it.”

NSSF’s Keane piggybacked off Sen. Daines’ comments and encouraged members to stay engaged and use NSSF’s #GUNVOTE voter-education platform, as well as the +ONE Movement to recruit new hunters and recreational shooters, ensuring the hunting and shooting sports remain popular and these traditions are passed on.

Sen. Daines said he’s putting in the hard work and looks forward to winning reelection, and immediately heading out to bear hunt with his wife, Cindy, in November.


Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation

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    • Hey everyone, cgray is talking. Storytime!

      We should all grab a favorite beverage, sit down in a circle around him, and listen as he respectfully contemplates the mysteries of the political landscape. Wuttaguy.

      • “Polltime”, not “storytime”. Republican Senators trailing in Maine, North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, and MONTANA(Daines). Any kind of wave happens, and Democrats also take Georgia and Iowa. I’m a conservative who lives in the real world. I don’t wishcast like you clowns.

    • Thank you cgray…The last time you hilliaryroids predicted the outcome of a race it backfired on you. I really think losing has quadrupled your mental illness. I mean the level you ratbassturds have sunk to over the past 4 years makes you so low you have to look up to see down.
      🇺🇸 America has seen you and your sicko ilk for what you are. The Rat in democRat is out of the bag.

    • I am not politically sided, but no. There won’t be another democrat in charge of Montana for a long time after going from Obama to Trump. Just not gonna happen. Even if it does, they’d be essentially taking their own life so much as mentioning gun control in this state. We are not Virginians.

      • I am a Virginian, and we don’t accept gun control. We were out voted by all the Non-Virginians who moved into the northern area around DC, and whose loyalty is to the federal government and not the state. This is where Bloomberg, Soros, and others spent a lot of money. If anything many Virginians were caught off guard and didn’t vote. Time will with the next election. A warning to your state, I hear there are many from California, Oregon and other states moving there. They may not hold your values….

        • We already know that. The difference is we won’t show up for a day then leave.

  1. Being as Senator Daines is a gun owner, hunter and stands against gun control rest assured the democrat former Gov. running for senate will more than likely play the race card.
    Sen. Daines needs to be ahead of the curve and call the democrat out when a debate topic turn towards gun control, etc. Sen. Daines needs to promptly educate the Gov. about the roots of gun control being in racism and genocide followed by asking the democrat to justify his racist and nazi based Gun Control agenda. Otherwise it’ll be the usual roll over and play dead Republican response and once again the well worn race card sticks.

  2. I work for a weapons company in Montana. I have been there about 4 years now, and it’s the best work I have ever done. Montana is definitely a special breed. If you are not from here, you would never understand. Hunting defines this state, along with everyday carriers and believe it or not, strong supporters of the second amendment who are lets just say, “very well organized”. There is an average of 7 people per square mile in Montana with an estimated 20,000 (probably closer to 22,000) total population in my “city”. I am fortunate enough to be able to shoot whenever I want on my property.

    The downside to this state is the roads and the drivers. There is no vehicle inspection. Although I believe vehicle inspections conducted by other states to be fraudulent because places you get them at will try to charge you $40 for a gas cap or something, it’s very clear they are beneficial when you drive in a state like Montana that does not have them. Tons of vehicles that should not be on the road. Also, alcohol is a BIG problem. There are work opportunities, but a lot of it is seasonal.

    In terms of this current pandemic, out of 1.2 million people, we have had 456 cases of COVID-19, with 417 confirmed recovered, and 17 total deaths. We just went 3 days with no cases, but unfortunately, a child was confirmed infected today. Still, a very small number, and thankfully nationwide that number is declining.

    A lot of tourism for montana. Unfortunately, this alters the price of fuel here. It’s the lowest I have seen since I was in grade school, at around $1.68 where I live. Average for winter was about $2, and summer was $3. So tourists suck. Nothing we don’t already know.

    As for gun rights, open carry is legal. Concealing requires a permit if you are in city limits. This is one state that should be a constitutional carry state, but it’s not. The cities are very blue. Again, no surprise there.

    There are tons of rednecks too, but most people seem pretty stable, at least around my age. The older you go, the more cringeworthy and you can expect some bumper stickers. The older generation here is not very smart (no offense) or tech savy. Some people don’t even have cell phones. The whole off grid movement was just a normal way of living up here before it was cool.

    A bit of a rant, but I am proud to be here. an hour drive in any direction and you can get good and lost. Most people mind their own business, and don’t expect police to show up to save them. I am honestly not surprised by this article at all, having lived here almost 5 years now. I plan on being buried here too.

    BTW, Canadians suck.

    Any questions, just google it. Don’t travel here, we are full 😉

    • I got family in Montana. It’s empty. Not full. It does get full in the winter. Full of snow.

      • And the roads are even worse. It is beautiful though. Especially if you have a snowmobile.

    • We would have Constitutional carry here, but Bullock did us dirty with that veto. That’s when the veil dropped for a lot of people who otherwise gave him lukewarm support.

  3. See you in June. You’ll recognize us, the RV with the Florida plates. I’ll be visiting the NRA Whittington Center to experience the ranges. Let me know if you need anything, we will be traveling through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico(Raton), Colorado and Wyoming.

  4. Nemo Arms is now in Namp, ID. They moved out of Kalispell, MT, quite a few years ago.

    If you ever get the chance to shoot one of their .300 Win Mag Omen rifles, I’d highly recommend it. I was knocking down targets at 500yds with ease. Would have loved to had a chance to shoot farther distances with it. Recoil was probably similar to a mild .30-06. Very impressive firearm. Unfortunately, the price-tag is impressively long distance from most people’s budgets…

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