HELENA, Mont. – The Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund today announced the release of a full page advertisement in The Helena Independent Record, urging Montana lawmakers to vote no on HB 325 and HB 357, which would gut local authority by preventing local governments from passing public safety measures to keep communities safe. Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund will also launch an online homepage takeover of The Helena Independent Record on Friday.
“When it comes to the safety of our families and our communities, locals know what’s best,” 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. We urge the Senate to put Montana families first and reject this dangerous legislation.”
The proposed legislation would strip local governments of their authority to prevent people from carrying guns at public demonstrations, as well as preventing any regulation around 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. Research indicates that open carry can increase the likelihood of violence.
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. Missoula passed an ordinance closing this loophole within city limits, and the 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.
HB 325 would also pave the way for more armed teachers in Montana. Under current law, guns are generally prohibited in Montana’s K-12 schools, but the law permits school districts to authorize certain individuals 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.
The Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Moms Demand Action are both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the country’s largest gun violence prevention organization.