HELENA, Mont. – The Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement in response to Gov. Bullock’s vetoes of HB 325 and SB 304. HB 325 would have allowed guns into public parks and K-12 schools and would have prevented local governments from passing public safety measures to keep communities safe. SB 304 would have allowed state legislators with a concealed carry permit to carry in public buildings, regardless of local restrictions.
“Gov. Bullock stood up for public safety in Montana by vetoing both of these dangerous bills,” said Kiely Lammers, volunteer leader with the Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We’re grateful that Gov. Bullock chose the best interests of Montanans over the interests of the gun lobby.”
In 2016, the Missoula City Council passed an ordinance that requires criminal background checks on all gun sales (with certain limited exceptions). The Missoula Background Check Ordinance was upheld by the Montana District Court this past October. HB 325 was a clear attempt to undo this court decision and prevent other cities from passing common-sense measures that can help keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
HB 325 would have also paved the way for more armed teachers in Montana, even though arming teachers is not actually an effective way to prevent gun violence in schools. Under current law, guns are generally prohibited in Montana’s K-12 schools, but the law does authorize school districts to allow people to carry firearms in schools. Some school districts have already taken advantage of this provision in dangerous ways — allowing teachers to carry guns in schools and putting students at risk. The current law also allows for local governments to regulate school district decisions, providing a crucial check on these districts. This legislation would have removed that authority and eliminated any power to regulate an unsafe decision.
The Montana legislature passed an identical legislative referendum bill to HB 325, HB 357, that would allow Montana voters to decide whether local governments should have the authority to pass common-sense gun safety laws. HB 357 notes that, “if HB 325 is passed and approved, then [HB 357] is void.” However, Montana’s constitution blocks Gov. Bullock from being able to veto legislative referendums, which means that since Gov. Bullock vetoed HB 325, HB 357 is now in the process of being sent to the ballot.
SB 304 would have allowed state legislators with a concealed carry permit to carry in public buildings, regardless of local restrictions. The current law prohibits permit holders from carrying concealed weapons in restricted areas in local buildings. This bill would have created a special privilege for state legislators to essentially bypass the law and carry in these spaces. This bill also would have prevented local ordinances to be enacted that would prohibit legislators from carrying in these buildings, barring local authorities from having the power to make a decision surrounding this policy.