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MT – SELF-PROTECTION – Montana House passes bill to permit campus concealed carry

A bill that would expand the list of places in Montana where people can carry concealed firearms with and without permits passed Thursday in the Republican-controlled House, less than two weeks after the Legislature started its session. Under existing law, concealed firearms are only allowed without permits in Montana outside of city limits. The bill would allow them to be carried without permits, including in the Montana Capitol, state and local government buildings and on public university campuses. The Montana university system Board of Regents has a rule banning people from carrying firearms. But the bill’s proponents said the rule infringes on the Second Amendment rights of university students, faculty and staff. Under the bill, the only places where carrying concealed firearms would not be allowed are correctional or detention centers, beyond security checkpoints at commercial airports, in federal buildings, on military bases or on private property if the owners prohibit firearms. Republican lawmakers prioritized the bill after the state elected its first Republican governor in 16 years in November. Similar gun bills have passed votes by the Republican-controlled Legislature in previous years, only to be vetoed by Democratic governors. In a vote down party lines, 66 Republicans voted in favor of the bill and 31 Democrats were opposed. Three House members did not vote. The bill now proceeds to the Montana Senate. Gov. Greg Gianforte spokesperson Brooke Stroyke did not respond to an email requesting comment on whether the governor would sign the bill if it reached his desk. Proponents of the bill have said that getting rid of so-called “gun-free zones” would allow law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. Opponents have cited research showing that the presence of guns could make some places, including university campuses, less safe.  [full article]

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