Helena, MT – The Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, gathered with elected officials, a law enforcement representative, gun owners and educators at the State Capitol today to urge Governor Bullock to veto House Bill 298 which would dismantle the current concealed carry permit system in Montana. The broad coalition also spoke out against Senate Bill 143, which would force guns onto college campuses.
As part of their first-ever gun safety advocacy day in Helena, Everytown and the Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action also released new polling (available here) that reveals an overwhelming majority of Montanans – 83 percent – support requiring a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public. H.B. 298 would dismantle Montana’s current concealed carry permit system, enabling people with absolutely no training and individuals convicted of weapons offenses or sexual assault to carry loaded handguns in public without a permit.
“It’s just common-sense that we need a permitting system in Montana where gun owners should have to go through firearm training and be checked for a clean criminal history before they are allowed to carry loaded handguns in public,” said Judith Heilman, retired Detective Sergeant and Montana gun owner. “If House Bill 298 is signed into law, it would lower public safety standards and put our communities at risk. I’ve worked with Everytown for Gun Safety and our Montana Moms, and urge Governor Bullock to do the right thing for our communities in Montana by vetoing this dangerous piece of legislation.”
“College campuses are places for our students to grow and learn in safe and supportive communities. Forcing colleges and universities to allow guns on campus would jeopardize that environment which, for many students, is the reason they chose Montana’s schools,” said Senator Mary McNally of Billings, a business professor at Montana State University Billings. “When students enroll in my class each semester, I expect to teach them the fundamentals of business without having to worry about whether any of my students are carrying concealed, loaded handguns.”
“The district I serve is home to 14,000 University of Montana students, and part of my job is to make sure I keep the Griz community safe,” said Representative Nate McConnell of Missoula, who represents University of Montana’s district. “Senate Bill 143 would put Montana’s campuses at risk, and it would revoke colleges’ and universities’ authority to make critical public safety decisions that best suit our campuses.”
“As an avid hunter and a proud gun owner, I firmly believe that gun ownership is part of our American heritage and ensured by our Second Amendment rights,” said John McDaniel, a hunter from Bozeman. “With rights come great responsibility, and I know the bills we’re speaking out against today aren’t the kind of measures responsible gun owners want to see in Montana. It’s time for our legislators to stand up for public safety and reject these dangerous bills. I urge Governor Bullock to veto HB 298.”
“It’s clear from the broad coalition gathered here today and from recent polling showing 83 percent of Montanans support requiring a permit to carry a concealed weapon, that these bills are not what we need to keep our families and communities safe;” said Pamela Owen, volunteer with the Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety. “For the safety of our families and communities across Montana, we ask Governor Bullock to veto House Bill 298.”
“I understand firsthand that guns and schools don’t mix,” said John Moffatt, a former vice principal who survived the shooting at Fergus High School in Lewistown. “I have two nephews at the University of Montana, and I know SB 143 does nothing to improve the safety of Montana’s campuses. I urge our elected leaders to stand up for the safety of my family and reject SB 143.”
More Information on Dangerous Gun Bills in Montana:
House Bill 298 would allow untrained and dangerous people to carry a concealed, loaded gun in Montana, including weapons offenders, sexual assault convicts, and violent criminals, without a permit. HB 298 would dismantle Montana’s current concealed weapons permit system and compromise law enforcement’s ability to keep Montanans safe on their streets.
Senate Bill 143 would force Montana’s public universities and colleges to allow the carry of concealed, loaded handguns on campuses. SB 143 would undo current law by revoking universities’ and colleges’ authority to make this critical public safety decision. Major stakeholders broadly reject campus carry including 78 percent of students, 95 percent of college presidents, and 89 percent of police chiefs.