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Montana Senate Committee Advances Reckless Permitless Carry, Guns on Campus Legislation Instead of Proven Solutions to Gun Violence

January 26, 2021

88 % of Americans Agree Permits are Needed Before Carrying a Concealed Gun in Public, and States That Have Weakened Their Firearm Permitting System Have Seen Increases in Violent Crime Rates

The Bill Allows People to Bring Firearms Into Places Where Alcoholic Beverages are Sold, Dispensed and Consumed, Which Is Opposed by 93 % of Americans

Montana Has the Seventh Highest Rate of Gun Deaths in the County, 85 % of which are Gun Suicides

HELENA, Mont. — The Montana chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement after the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance 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 will move to the Senate floor. 

“We would never accept someone driving a car without training, so why are our lawmakers trying to gut requirements for firearm safety training?” said Amber McDermott, a gun owner and volunteer with the Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action. “As a gun owner, I know that requiring training is not an infringement on my Second Amendment rights. I’m proud Montana’s permit system has been protecting communities and families like mine and I urge lawmakers focus, instead, on proven solutions to end Montana’s gun suicide public health crisis.”

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 would 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. 

Allowing guns on campus could also 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. Montana’s gun suicide rate is more than two times that of the national gun suicide rate. On average, 176 people in Montana die by gun suicide every year—accounting for over 85 percent of all gun deaths in the state and the second highest rate of gun suicide deaths in the country.      

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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