The Montana chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement after Gov. Gianforte signed HB 102, which 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. The bill would also force colleges and universities to allow anyone to carry concealed, loaded firearms on campus with few exceptions.
“The risk of gun violence – especially gun suicide – from the fallout of the pandemic is dangerously high. But rather than address this risk, lawmakers passed a policy that has led to increased levels of gun violence,” said Kiely Lammers, a volunteer with the Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action. “It’s disappointing to see lawmakers disregarding the will of Montanans and those most impacted by this policy — including law enforcement, clergy, parents, small business owners and university students — in favor of the gun lobby. But, we are committed to continue fighting for common-sense gun safety legislation — because lives depend on it. ”
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. The majority of Americans support concealed carry permitting systems that provide firearm safety training and ensure that only responsible gun owners can carry concealed guns in public. 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.
The bill also allows people to bring firearms into places where alcoholic beverages are sold, dispensed and consumed. Alcohol is associated with increased aggression, and people under the influence of alcohol are both more likely to be shot and more likely to kill someone else. Currently, 93 percent of people in the U.S. think people should not be allowed to bring guns into bars.
HB 102 forces colleges and universities to allow anyone to carry concealed, loaded firearms on campus with few exceptions. Guns have no place on college campuses, and allowing guns on campus could increase the risk of gun suicide for students. The firearm suicide rate for children and teens has increased by 59 percent in the past decade – and access to firearms increases the risk of suicide by three times. State legislators shouldn’t make colleges less safe by forcing them to allow concealed handguns in dorms, classrooms, and other sensitive areas.
More information about permitless carry is available here and guns on campus is available 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.