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 the First Judicial District Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for Montana’s legislature to interfere with the Board of Regents’ authority to keep guns off campuses. Students, gun violence survivors, parents, and educators all came out in favor of the lawsuit earlier this year.
“The court reminded us of what we already know: forcing guns on campus is unacceptable,” said Sheri Sprigg, a volunteer with the Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This decision is an important step to keeping our children safe on college campuses. We hope the legislature prioritizes real solutions to gun violence in the state next session.”
In May, the Montana Board of Regents unanimously voted to challenge the new law forcing guns on college campuses and explore other options to keep students and faculty safe from gun violence.
Last session, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers and supporters have done more than 1,600 digital actions, including sending 1259 emails and making 347 calls, in addition to numerous tweets, urging against forcing guns on campus.
In February, Governor Greg Gianforte signed HB 102, a reckless bill to 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, and 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 allowing guns on campus could increase the risk of gun suicide for students. The national 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. And, on average, over 200 people are shot and killed with a gun in Montana every year — giving the state the eighth highest rate of gun deaths in the country. Montana also has the second highest rate of gun suicides in the country, which accounts for nearly 85% of gun deaths in the state and is more than two times that of the national gun suicide rate.