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Montana’s Governor Greg Gianforte kept good on a campaign promise that if a legislative bill came to his desk allowing Montana residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit, he would sign it. And he has.
“Every law-abiding Montanan should be able to defend themselves and their loved ones. That’s why today, I’m signing H.B. 102 into law,” Governor Greg Gianforte said Friday before signing the bill.
The new law allows law-abiding Montana gun owners to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense throughout the state without written authorization from the government. The new law simplifies the patchwork of concealed carry laws into a single standard throughout the state.
Governor Gianforte pointed to history, saying, “Our Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms is part of Montana’s, and our nation’s, rich heritage. We have a responsibility to preserve it.” HB102 was introduced in January and co-sponsored by more than a dozen state legislatures. The bill was then sent to the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee, and then forwarded to the Montana Senate for debate where it passed several readings.
Finally, the legislation was approved and forwarded to the Governor’s office on February 5.
Bills similar to this have passed several Montana legislative processes in past years, but where then vetoed by the sitting Governor. Among those vetoing similar permitless legislation was former governor Steve Bullock who ran for the US Senate in 2020—and was defeated.
HB102 also ends gun-free zones in Montana and is specific about permitting the carrying of firearms on college campuses.
In the bill’s title are the words: PROHIBITING THE MONTANA UNIVERSITY SYSTEM AND BOARD OF REGENTS FROM INFRINGING ON CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS—AND PROVIDING EXCEPTIONS. In the past college campuses have ignored state firearms laws and enacted their own laws, but HB102, Section 5 notes that public universities are on state land and use state buildings and must comply with state laws.
In Section 3 of HB102, the new law notes gun-free zones are eliminated: “Zones where guns are prohibited provide an increased risk to the health and safety of citizens because these zones create an unreasonable expectation of government-provided safety, while that safety cannot be provided or ensured.” Gun-free zones, and how ineffective those are, were rarely mentioned by groups opposed to HB102. Those groups instead chose to focus on guns in bars and suicide rates. There continue to be places where firearms may not be carried, to include: military bases, federal buildings and beyond TSA checkpoints at airports and a few other locations.
HB102 is also very specific about owning firearms and using those for self-defense.
Section 2 specifies: “It is the intent of the legislature to reduce or remove provisions of law that limit or prohibit the ability of citizens to defend themselves by restricting with prior restraint the right to keep or bear arms that the people have reserved to themselves in the Montana constitution, and to further establish that the right to defense of a person’s life, liberty, or property is a fundamental right.”
The bill further recognizes the historic District of Columbia vs Heller and McDonald vs. City of Chicago legal cases as being examples where the US Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the 2nd Amendment and firearms ownership by citizens. HB102 also legalizes open carry in Montana.
Section 11 of this bill addresses local governments and lets them know that state laws on concealed carry have priority.
The Restriction on Local Government regulation of firearms reads: a county, city, town, consolidated local government, or other local government unit may not prohibit, register, tax, license, or regulate the purchase, sale or other transfer (including delay in purchase, sale, or other transfer), ownership, possession, transportation, use, or unconcealed carrying of any weapon, including a rifle, shotgun, handgun, or concealed handgun.
Montana now joins Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota,
Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming as states that permit residents to concealed carry a weapon without having to obtain a government issued permit to carry a firearm concealed. Each state has various wording outlining the details, and some states list knives, firearms and clubs as weapons. Each state also has specific wording on open carry and restrictions on what is legal—and not. Idaho’s permitless carry law, for example, applies to residents and active military members. Some states also have legal requirements regarding law enforcement officers and their concealed carry.
In most states to obtain a concealed carry permit, residents need to apply, attend a class or complete a certification course, pass various background checks and possibly complete a live-fire program, fill out applications, be fingerprinted and/or photographed and pay fees and then wait—and sometimes wait for extended periods of time. In some states, like Ohio, applicants may need to make up to four trips to various offices –and incur long sit-and-wait times--to complete the application process and receive the permit.
Montana’s HB 102 can be reviewed here: https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2021/HB0199/HB0102_1.pdf
— Michael D. Faw
How is a group of people carrying un-permitted concealed weapons a well regulated Militia?
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