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Help President

Trump keep his promise

Dear Editor,

Senator Daines, Senator Tester and Congressman Gianforte: President Trump needs your help to ensure Mexico pays for the wall. The president requested $23 billion for the wall in his recent FY2019 budget request to Congress. He has similarly requested funding for the wall in the many continuing resolutions required to keep the federal government operating, and the various immigration bills considered by Congress.

I strongly supported President Trump because of his sincere promise that Mexico would pay for the wall. President Trump is a master negotiator and strategist. In fact, he is a genius. He said so himself. Congress can strengthen and reinforce the president’s resolve to make Mexico pay by refusing to provide my tax dollars and those of other hard-working Americans to pay for the wall. Surely President Trump can negotiate, cajole, convince, and – if necessary – bully Mexico into paying. He can do it.

My number one priority for the funds made available by Mexico paying for the wall is an increased tax cut for my friends and me, especially me. On the chance that you believe government has a purpose beyond providing tax cuts, you might consider using the money made available by Mexico paying for the wall, to repair the United States’ crumbling infrastructure, improve public health, secure the nation’s voting system from foreign meddling and provide a blanket authorization for President Trump’s cabinet leaders to fly first class.

President Trump needs your help to keep his campaign promises. Please don’t let him or me down. MAGA.

A. Richard Hunter


It’s a culture problem,

not a gun problem

Dear Editor,

The fact that some mentally unstable individual decided to commit a horrendous crime does not supersede my Second Amendment rights. The Second Amendment is there for a very specific reason; it allows the people to defend themselves from an oppressive government. In recent times we have seen more instances of government agencies attacking the people and even an elected president in highly questionable ways. Some fail to remember that the first shots of the American Revolution were fired in defense of the right to bear arms. Many of those Minutemen were boys that carried the same weapon as the British infantry.

Semi-automatic firearms are a huge majority of all firearms legally owned by American citizens. A weapon being semi-automatic in no way classifies it as “military grade.” What you call “military grade” is usually associated with selectable fire weapons and these types of weapons are not available to the general population without a federal firearms license.

Deaths by rifle (which semi-automatic rifles are a subset of) are a small number of deaths annually in the United States when compared to other forms of homicide. In 2016 (the latest year full statistics are available) according to FBI homicide statistics, 374 people were killed by rifles, in the same year 1,604 people were killed by knives, 472 were killed by blunt objects and 656 were killed with hands.

We don’t have a gun problem, we have a culture problem.

Gary Landers


More information needed for

Snowies management

Dear Editor,

I would like to use this forum to explicitly thank the Fergus County Commission for the hearing it held on Wednesday the 21st at the Courthouse, regarding the Commission’s endorsement of S2206, the bill that, if passed, would remove Wilderness Study Area status from nearly half a million acres under Forest Service management, including 91,000 acres in the Big Snowy Mountains.

Opponents and proponents of the Commission’s endorsement showed up in force, and taken as a whole, it was a good exercise in civic discourse, and a demonstration to the Commission that a great number of their constituents are interested in the management options for the Snowy Mountains. Issues raised included watershed management, economic development impacts, firefighting capacity, recreational access and visual impacts to the community, among others. The meeting was long on anecdotes, but short on hard facts, and there was no debate on either the anecdotes, or the facts and policy surrounding the present or potential impacts of managing the Snowies with a priority for any of issues raised.

The meeting demonstrated a need for more information, for maps, for management facts and options. In short, it demonstrated a need for a consensus-driven common sense, community-based solution rather than one handed down from Washington, or promoted by outside groups that are not even part of the Commission’s constituency. We can, as a community, do this.

The Western author Wallace Stegner summed this need up best when he said, “One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope.

“When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.”

Jeff Shelden


Forests can

accommodate all users

Dear Editor,

Senator Steve Daines’ “Protect Public Use of Public Lands Act” addresses the Wilderness Study Act that has been in effect since 1977 – 40 years. That is 40 years we have had an opportunity to provide public input. I have been talking to our representatives for more than 20 years on this issue. What has changed is Senator Daines is finally saying 40 years is long enough for a study, and it is time to either classify the areas in the study as wilderness or as non-wilderness. In 1982, the parties in charge of analyzing the Wilderness Study Areas determined neither the Big Snowy Mountains nor the Middle Fork areas met the criteria to be a wilderness area.

Thanks to the Fergus County Commissioners for allowing public comment at their commissioner meeting on Feb. 21. If the lands in the Wilderness Study Areas are designated as non-wilderness, the Forest Service will still be managing the forests and will regulate them to protect them and do so with public comments and input. I have lived in this area my whole life and Lewistown certainly isn’t growing when compared to the 1960s and 1970s. Driving down Main Street will tell you this by the amount of closed businesses. There used to be many people in Central Montana that made a living off the National Forests, either through logging, mining, outfitting, etc. For our young people to stay here, they have to have jobs but they also have to have recreation. Not everyone’s idea of recreating is going camping or hiking in a wilderness setting. That is why they call the National Forests a multi-use forest.

I believe our forests, including the Snowy Mountains and the Middle Fork of the Judith River, are big enough to accommodate all users, and I certainly don’t think they need a wilderness classification to accomplish this. There are 17 million acres of National Forest land in Montana of which 3.44 million acres (20 percent) are already classified as Wilderness Areas where all motorized use is prohibited. In the areas not classified as Wilderness, motorized use has been greatly reduced and congested due to the Forest Service travel plans, which have closed many motorcycle, 4-wheeler, and snowmobile trails, and have pushed riders onto a few remaining trails.

As a private land owner in the Middle Fork of the Judith, there is no doubt in my mind the classification of the Wilderness Study Area is helping to contribute to the potential of a major fire that could destroy a large part of the Little Belt Mountain range.

Bing Von Bergen Moccasin, Montana

No reason

to impose new laws

Dear Editor,

Once again our government (some might say bloated and incompetent) will try to impose new laws on the many lawabiding – for the actions of a few criminals.

Chicago’s gun laws haven’t stopped the killing, only unarmed the innocent.

Until we start protecting our schools like we protect our airports, banks and other valuable targets with the same enthusiasm, the outcome, sadly, will be the same.

The words “military grade assault rifle” were used for the fear factor in the news.

Mr. Cruz could not have acquired one (legally) without a federal license. The semi-auto shotgun you hunt birds with, or the 10/22 you gave to your niece for X-mas, should hardly be considered confiscatable solely for the words (semi-auto). Harden the softest targets we have – schools. Even the best marksman can’t hit what he can’t see.

Mr. Cruz was like a mouse turd in a truck full of wheat -- it’s hard to find. But we can try harder to keep the mice out of the wheat silo. The feds, state and local governments all failed in this case. That’s no reason to impose new laws on the rest of the law-abiding citizens.

Joe and Barb Stoltz


Arming teachers is wrong

Dear Editor,

My heart and my prayers go out to all the children, families, teachers and staff members who have been impacted by school shootings. I believe in prayers, and am convinced that the answer to my prayer is that our citizens, leaders, and politicians speak up and take action. If nothing is done, nothing changes, and more school massacres will happen. So many in our society feel frustration and anger with our political leaders because too much of the political dialogue is about protecting other things... instead of our children.

After working in the field of education for 37 years, I have to say that the current national conversation about arming teachers to protect students is stunning… and wrong. We’re missing the point of the discussion if this is the answer. The true purpose behind the current debate is how to protect the students and employees in our schools by NEVER having another school shooting. If the answer is more guns in our schools, we have failed.

This isn’t an easy problem with a single, simple fix. It’s a problem in our society for many reasons, and multiple ideas and solutions need to be addressed. We can start by figuring out how to: make our mental health care system more available; improve our reporting systems; empower, train and support our law enforcement officers; implement a common sense and safe system for entry into all of our schools; and last but not least, how to get weapons (whose only purpose is to kill lots of people in a short amount of time) off the streets and out of the hands of 18 year olds and those that make threats to our society. All these issues need to be addressed.

I am angry so many of our leaders and politicians are more concerned with party platform and financial support than they are in truly working at solving this tragedy. Speak up! Our children and our school employees are infinitely more important. Or should be.

Never Again!

Debra Slagel


Get rid of gun-free zones

Dear Editor,

I watched Montana’s governor on TV today talking to the president about these school shootings. Turns out our governor could be the leader of the gun control movement. He wants universal background checks (gun registration), magazine limits, [and] raising the age to buy a rifle.

Raising the minimum age would make someone who is 18-20 sitting ducklings to the predators. Also many of these shooters are over 21, so what would it solve but to make two classes of citizen: One who can’t practice their freedoms and one who can.

To anyone who values freedom this should be concerning.

Something that would help right away is getting rid of gunfree zones, and allow those who have a CCW to carry at schools so a loser has to realize the teacher, the parent, or someone else they encounter may be the one that ends their life, instead of someone to shoot without worry. You don’t confront evil by making yourself less powerful. Scott Welsh Lewistown



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