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A Lifelong Sportsman Writes His Congressional Delegation About Guns

Gary Wolfe is a hunter, biologist and formerly an outfitter, head of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Montana fish and wildlife commissioner

 Photo courtesy USFWS
March 10, 2018

Senator Jon Tester
724 Hart Senate Office Building 
Washington, DC 20510-2604

Senator Steve Daines
320 Hart Senate Office Building 
Washington, DC 20510-2604

Congressman Greg Gianforte
1419 Longworth House Office Building 
Washington, DC 20515

RE: Mass Shootings and Firearms Restrictions 


I am a Montana gun owner and hunter, and I am writing to express my concern and opinion regarding the debate surrounding the issue of gun violence and firearms laws.

How to prevent mass shootings like those that have occurred recently is a complex issue. There are no simple answers, nor is it a single-solution problem. The increasing acceptance of violence in our culture (movies, video games, etc.), breakdowns in the social network, the failure to adequately address mental health issues, law enforcement oversights, loopholes in existing firearms regulations, and easy access to semi-automatic military style “assault rifles” are all contributing factors. However, this letter specifically addresses my concerns about firearms.

First let me say that I have been a firearms owner and hunter for more than 50 years―including 12 years as a professional big game outfitter and guide―and I am still an active hunter and shooter. However, I firmly believe that Congress must enact additional common sense gun laws to help curb the growing firearms violence. Many of my hunting companions share this belief.

The “far right” advocates that restricting access to certain types of firearms violates the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms,” and is a concept supported only by the “liberal left” and anti-gun groups. I vehemently disagree with that precept!

The Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to keep and bear all types of arms. If it did, then there would be no restrictions on the private ownership of fully automatic weapons, rocket launchers, or bazookas! Nor do I accept that it is only anti-gun individuals and groups who support enacting additional gun laws. As mentioned above, I am a Montana gun owner and hunter and I support enactment of additional common sense gun laws.

Senator Tester, Senator Daines, and Congressman Gianforte – it is time for you and your colleagues in Congress to stand up to the National Rifle Association, take decisive action, and enact additional common sense gun laws. Here are my suggestions:

  • Strengthen, improve and expand background checks – including elimination of the “gun show loophole.” Universal background checks should be required.

  •   Ban “bump stocks.”

  •   Ban high-capacity magazines. No one needs a 30-round clip!

  •   Restrict access to semi-automatic military style rifles (aka “assault rifles”). 

I firmly believe that the proliferation of and easy access to these type of firearms poses an unacceptable risk to the public. Existing federal law strictly regulates the manufacture, sale, and ownership of fully automatic weapons in the United States. 

There is no reason a similar approach could not be taken with “assault rifles.” I am not advocating a total ban, but instead laws that restrict ownership of these types of firearms to responsible, qualified individuals. 

A potential buyer should be required to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency with firearms and firearms safety―similar to hunter safety classes that are required in most states before one can purchase a hunting license, or the certifications required to obtain a concealed carry permit―before being allowed to purchase “assault rifles.”

I am enclosing a copy of a “letter to the editor” that appeared in the March 4, 2018 Missoulian. It was written by a knowledgeable firearms expert from Hamilton, MT. I urge you to read it.

In closing, please consider this question. If you were involved in a mass shooting incident, would you rather confront a shooter armed with a traditional firearm, or one firing a semi-automatic “assault rifle” equipped with a bump stock and a 30-round clip?

As a Montana voter, I will be paying close attention to your actions on this important public safety issue.

Gary J. Wolfe
Missoula, Montana

EDITOR'S NOTE: The founder of Mountain Journal is a lifelong hunter. Mountain Journal also supports both the U.S. Constitution and the tenets of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. We welcome guest commentary from those who wish to write a rebuttal, making a case for why assault rifles are necessary for hunting, provided they are: thoughtful, fact-based, respectful and civil. We also encourage readers to read another letter penned by a grade school teacher in Jackson Hole to U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.  Photo at top courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.
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