According to Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, Hellgate High School isn't the only educational institution that wasn’t always a gun-free zone.

“When Sentinel High School was built, it was built with a shooting range in the basement,” said Marbut. “I’m told that since then, it’s been converted to use for storage, but it’s interesting that back then, there was shooting in the schools.”

It was revealed last week that there was also an indoor shooting range, as well as shooting clubs at Missoula County High School, now known as Hellgate.

Marbut revealed that while he was in high school at Sentinel, he was suspended, but not for bringing a gun to school, but rather for writing a letter.

courtesy of Gary Marbut

“I got suspended for writing a letter to the editor of the Missoulian,” he said. “Senator Edward Kennedy was scheduled to address a student rally, and at the last minute the school board cancelled, so I wrote a letter to the Missoulian which was published in March of 1964 which was critical of the school board for not allowing us to hear Kennedy speak, thinking that we might not be able to handle whatever he had to say. So, because they thought I was strange enough to write a letter to the editor, they thought I should miss a week of school.”

At the time, Marbut considered the suspension a ‘badge of honor’, as well as a week of vacation on his family’s ranch.

“What high school kid wouldn’t rather be out of school for a week and have a bit of a vacation,” he said.

That experience eventually led to Marbut’s interest in all things political.

“The first time I testified before the Montana Legislature was in 1971,” he said. “Since then I have narrowed my focus to Second Amendment issues and it seems to have been a good move because I have now gotten a total of 68 pro-gun laws and pro-hunting laws through the Montana legislature and enacted into law.”

According to their website, the MSSA is the primary organization providing gun safety materials to Montana schools.



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