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Montana Lawmakers are Pushing a Reckless Permitless Carry Bill. Here’s What to Know As You Are Covering HB 102.

January 15, 2021

Despite having the seventh highest rate of gun deaths in the country, Montana lawmakers continue to prioritize reckless, dangerous permitless carry legislation, written and championed by an equally reckless gun extremist, Gary Marbut. 

HB 102 would eliminate the permit requirement for carrying a concealed handgun in nearly all public places, meaning that more people could carry hidden, loaded handguns without a background check or any safety training. Training is the cornerstone of responsible gun ownership and has been keeping gun owners and non-gun owners alike safe for years. 

By prioritizing HB 102, lawmakers are giving gun extremists like Gary Marbut the power to undermine the safety of Montanans across the state. Research shows that 88 % of Americans agree that permits are needed before carrying a concealed gun in public, and states that have weakened their permitting system have seen increases in violent crime rates. 

More information about Gary Marbut and his history of gun extremism in Montana:

  • Gary Marbut has extensive links to the militia movement and other extremists groups. He has also worked to get local candidates for sheriff to affirm their support for militia ideas.
  • According to the Montana Human Rights Network, Marbut “continually [pushes] for easier access to weapons, which play an important role in the violent conspiracy theories based on antisemitism.” He frequently invokes language that involves his supporters needing firearms to “fight off an invasion by one-world government forces.” 
  • In a recent piece in The Missoulian, Marbut highlights his support for a program that encourages children in first through third grade to have firearms in their classrooms. Research shows us that when children have access to firearms it triples the risk of firearm suicide across all age groups
  • As the president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association and a former firearm training instructor, Marbut has championed the importance of firearm training, but now is pushing legislation that would take away training.

More information about HB 102: 

  • Permitless carry legislation strips states of essential permitting and training standards for carrying concealed guns in public. Training is one of the cornerstones of responsible gun ownership, and removing that element is risky.
  • In 2003, Alaska became the first state to enact permitless carry legislation. Since then, the rate of aggravated assaults committed with a firearm in the state increased by 71 percent by 2019.
  • HB 102 would also force colleges and universities to allow anyone to carry concealed, loaded firearms on campus with few exceptions. Guns have no place on college campuses, and state legislators shouldn’t make colleges less safe by forcing them to allow concealed handguns in dorms, classrooms, sporting events, and other sensitive areas.
  • States that have passed legislation forcing colleges to allow guns on campus are struggling to deal with the consequences – both in terms of campus safety and in terms of economic costs.  
  • These laws result in new expenses, including additional police and security staff, metal detectors, cameras, and protective gear. Idaho’s guns on campus law is costing taxpayers millions. In 2014, Idaho passed legislation that forced colleges to allow people with “enhanced” permits to carry guns on campus. As a result, five state schools had to request more than $3.7 million from the state to increase security in the first year alone.

More information about permitless carry here and guns on campus here. Additional information on gun violence in Montana is available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator — which shows how Montana’s gun laws compare to those of other states — is available here.

To speak with a policy expert or Montana Moms Demand Action and/or Students Demand Action volunteers, please do not hesitate to reach out.

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