HELENA — Permitless concealed carry of firearms-- also known as constitutional carry-- is now legal in Montana following Gov. Greg Gianforte's signing of House Bill 102 into law.
HB 102 allows people to carry concealed firearms without a permit in most locations, and with a permit in state and local government buildings such as the state Capitol Building.
“Gun control measures don’t prevent criminals from perpetrating violence or crime,” said Gianforte. “Gun control measures step on the rights of law-abiding citizens and our Second Amendment is very clear, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Gianforte was joined at the signing ceremony by Rep. Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, and other Republicans.
“HB 102 does a few things,” explained Berglee. “It allows people to carry concealed firearms without the same amount of training in areas they can already open carry and it erases the invisible line around our colleges and allows adults to include veterans that have served overseas to carry on college campuses.”
Changes to concealed carry in the state go into effect immediately, although changes to colleges and universities won’t go into effect until June 1, 2021.
The new law also limits how college administrators can regulate guns on campus. Those institutions can no longer outright prohibit individuals from concealed carry or open carry of a firearm on campus, with certain exceptions.
University and colleges are able to prohibit the possession of a firearm at an event on campus where alcohol is being served, or at an athletic or entertainment event open to the public with controlled access and armed security on site. Institutions are also able to prohibit firearm possession in a dorm if the roommate objects and by individuals who have disciplinary actions arising out of the individual's interpersonal violence or substance abuse.
Individuals who want to conceal carry a weapon on campus will also need to follow training requirements and regulations under the Montana University System Board of Regents.
Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education Kevin McRae told MTN in a statement the Board of Regents will be discussing and probably making decisions on campus firearms policy at their May board meeting.
“Keeping our campuses safe places to teach, learn, live and grow is our highest priority,” wrote McRae. “We are grateful that the Legislature and the Governor gave us the opportunity to express our concerns. We are also grateful that they made some amendments to the bill that improved it in our view.”
As for K-12 schools, HB 102 allows school boards to limit concealed carry and open carry of firearms in their buildings should they so choose.
The new law also allows those with concealed carry permits to now be able to concealed carry in bars, casinos and restaurants and financial institutions like banks. However, private properties--including businesses and rentals-- may expressly prohibit firearms at their location.
Berglee told MTN it was important to leave the rights of businesses intact.
HB 102 additional will allow for concealed carry in courthouses by the public with the exceptions of a courtroom or an area of a courthouse in use by court personnel pursuant to an order of a justice of the peace or judge.
Concealed carry will remain illegal in: correctional, detention, or treatment facilities; law enforcement facilities operated by a city or county; beyond a security screening checkpoint at an airport; in a federal building or on military property.