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Concerned citizens pack Ronan Community Center

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RONAN — For the second time this year, the Ronan Community Center was filled nearly to capacity on a Tuesday evening as local concerned citizens’ group Calling All Conservatives held its monthly meeting Feb. 9.

“We’re just really pleased with what we’ve seen these first two events,” group founder Terry Backs said. “The feedback’s been overwhelmingly positive.”

After months and years of dealing with frustration with federal and state government, Backs was inspired to reach out to others with similar concerns. She visited an organization in Hamilton called Celebrating Conservatism — which focuses on educating citizens about their Constitutional rights — and decided to try to form a similar group locally. So far, the response has been huge.

More than 300 people came to last week’s event to hear talks by Gary Marbut, Montana Shooting Sports Association president, and Rick Jore, former member of the Montana House and chairman of the Constitution Party in Montana. The event opened with an educational video titled “The American Form of Government,” which Backs said was back by popular demand from last month’s meeting. 

Marbut discussed Second Amendment issues and explained that the government’s chief function is to protect individual liberties. The problem, he said, is that government at all levels is growing too authoritative.

“We’re concerned about that,” Marbut said. “(Government is) no longer protecting our liberties; it’s intruding on our liberties.”

An important way for citizens to combat this problem, he continued, is to become informed and discuss issues with others, which is what Calling All Conservatives is all about.

Marbut also explained how MTSSA was instrumental in getting the Firearms Freedom Act (Montana House Bill 246) passed last year. The bill, which went into effect Oct. 1, exempts firearms made and kept in the state of Montana from federal firearms regulations, an important step in curbing excessive federal regulations related to interstate commerce, he said. Since HB 246 was introduced in Montana, clones have been introduced in at least 22 other states.

“There is nationwide interest in this,” Marbut said. “There’s the smell of freedom in the air all over America, and I think it’s very exciting.”

Following Marbut, Jore discussed the importance of evaluating political candidates based on their beliefs about the Constitution. Politicians spend far too much time arguing about whether their ideas are good or bad ideas, but what they should be discussing is if the ideas are Constitutional.

“It’s a matter of if the Constitution authorizes government to do it in the first place,” he said.

Jore reviewed a questionnaire that will allow voters to evaluate candidates’ stance on the Constitution by asking questions like, “What is the purpose of the government?” and “Do you believe the federal government has all powers except those prohibited by the Constitution, or no powers except those delegated by the Constitution?”

After the presentations, everyone had the opportunity to visit eight focus groups — small groups devoted to studying specific issues (10th Amendment / state sovereignty, public education, property rights, Constitution studies, voter issues, self-reliance and preparedness, Second Amendment/right to bear arms and pro-life issues). The groups plan to meet in people’s homes biweekly or monthly, aside from the larger Calling All Conservatives events.

“A lot of people stayed and visited the focus groups and talked afterward,” Backs noted.


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