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 the House of Representatives passing HB 325, legislation that would allow guns into public parks and K-12 schools and prevent local governments from passing public safety measures to keep communities safe.
“Today, our lawmakers chose the gun lobby over Montana families,” said Kiely Lammers, volunteer leader with the Montana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “This legislation is a transparent attempt to target cities that have stepped up to protect our communities by implementing common-sense gun safety measures, like requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales. Not only that, but this reckless legislation also opens the door for more armed teachers in our children’s schools. We urge the Senate to reject this dangerous legislation.”
In 2016, the Missoula City Council passed an ordinance that requires criminal background checks on all gun sales (with certain limited exceptions). Although federal law requires licensed gun dealers to conduct criminal background checks on gun sales, a loophole exists that allows unlicensed sales, including sales online and at gun shows, to take place without background checks. Montana is not one of the states that have closed this loophole, and Missoula’s ordinance closed the loophole within city limits.
The Missoula Background Checks Ordinance was upheld by the Montana District Court this past October. HB 325 is 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.
The proposed legislation would also strip local governments of their authority to prevent people from openly carrying guns at public demonstrations and forces them to allow guns in parks, including at events such as public rallies, even if there is a public safety risk. Currently, local governments have the authority to regulate carry of firearms in public places, including a public assembly or a park. As one might expect, research indicates that open carry can increase the likelihood of violence.
HB 325 would also pave 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 school. Some school districts have already taken advantage of this provision in dangerous ways — allowing teachers to carry guns in schools and putting students in danger. The current law also allows for local governments to regulate school district decisions, providing a crucial check on these districts. This legislation would remove that authority and eliminate any power to regulate an unsafe decision.