HELENA, Mont. – The Montana Chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statement after the Senate failed to pass HB 551. The measure would have put a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to allow permitless gun carry on the ballot – the latest attempt by gun-lobby backed lawmakers to prioritize gun lobby priorities over public safety.
“We have seen what weakening gun safety laws can do to our communities, we cannot continue to risk the lives of Montanans,” said Beckie Squires, a volunteer with the Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action. “While we are relieved that the legislature rejected efforts to further weaken our gun laws this session, the legislature must do better to prioritize the safety of our communities and pass common-sense gun safety laws.. As our state battles worrying suicide rates, we expect lawmakers to come together and focus on the issues affecting Montana families. We know change is possible and look forward to working with policymakers at every level to protect Montanans from gun violence.”
Montana Moms Demand Action volunteers testified on various measures during this legislative session; they rallied in favor of gun safety measures, including HB 202, which would have established an Extreme Risk law that would have allowed family members and law enforcement to petition a court to order the temporary removal of firearms from people who pose a risk to themselves or others. While the legislature was focused on silencing Representative Zooey Zephyr, the state’s first transgender lawmaker – Moms Demand Action volunteers continued working behind the scenes to defeat HB 551 and other gun lobby-backed legislation. In addition, gun safety advocates worked with the Republican-led legislature on suicide prevention measures, which awaits Montana Governor Greg Gianforte’s signature, would help address the state’s high suicide rates by protecting people who hold firearms for others in moments of crisis from liability.
In Montana, a gun suicide death occurs every 46 hours and the state has the third highest rate of firearm suicide in the country. In an average year, there are an estimated 228 gun-related deaths, with 83-percent of gun deaths among young people are reported as suicides. Montana also has the second highest rate of suicide among Native Americans in the country. Montana has the ninth highest gun-related death rate in the United States. Gun violence costs Montana $3 billion each year, of which $30.9 million is paid by taxpayers. More information about gun violence in Montana is available here.
To speak to a local volunteer with Moms Demand Action, a volunteer with Students Demand Action, or a policy expert, please reach out to [email protected].