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Court blocks gun law from taking effect on MT campuses

On hold while suit challenging law proceeds
Gun guns gun store
Posted at 3:13 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 17:17:06-04

HELENA — A state court in Helena Friday stopped a law from taking effect next Tuesday, that would have overridden the Board of Regents’ policy banning firearm possession on state college campuses.

The regents had asked for a temporary hold on the law, while their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the language proceeds in state District Court.

Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian said the order means the regents’ policy on firearm possession on Montana state campuses will remain in effect “until further notice.”

That policy says the only people who can carry firearms on state campuses are police or security officers, including those who may work for a privately contracted security firm.

The regents are challenging language in House Bill 102, which says legal owners of firearms can carry them on campuses. The bill did allow the regents to limit firearm possession at certain campus events.

The lawsuit says the language in HB102, which was signed into law in February, is an unconstitutional infringement on the regents’ authority to manage the university system. The language affecting the campus firearm policy had been scheduled to take effect next Tuesday.

The regents initially filed their lawsuit last Friday before the Montana Supreme Court. The court on Wednesday declined to take jurisdiction of the case and said it should be filed first in state District Court. The regents refiled the action in state District Court in Helena and asked the judge to block the law, while the case is decided.

A separate lawsuit by a coalition of labor groups and university students, parents and faculty and former U-system officials also is challenging HB102.