Montana H.B. 102 was introduced in January, 2021, and will permit Montana residents to carry a concealed firearm for personal protection in most places in the state without first acquiring a permit from the government. The bill passed out of the state legislature on February 5. Now, Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has signed the bill into law.
“Every law-abiding Montanan should be able to defend themselves and their loved ones. That’s why today, I’m signing H.B. 102 into law,” said Gianforte before signing the bill.
“The legislature has passed permitless carry bills the past several sessions only to see them killed by a veto pen,” said Montana Rep. Dr. Jane Gillette (R), who is an NRA member. “I am excited that H.B. 102 has reached the governor’s desk and that we finally have a Governor who will stand up for the Second Amendment rights of Montanans. This bill will expand firearm rights, update Montana’s antiquated concealed-carry laws, and promote public safety.”
In recent years, bills similar to this have passed both legislative chambers in Montana, but were then vetoed by previous governors. Most recently, former governor Steve Bullock (D) vetoed similar legislation in 2017. In 2019, Bullock ran a brief, unsuccessful campaign to be the Democrat nominee for President, then ran for one of Montana’s U.S. Senate seats last November and was defeated.
“Montanans should not have to seek government approval and jump through bureaucratic hoops in order to exercise their right to self-defense,” said NRA’s Montana State Director Brian Gosch. “Governor Gianforte recognized this and worked to codify these rights. The NRA thanks the governor and the bill's prime sponsor, Representative Seth Berglee, for sending a clear message: in Montana, self-defense rights are recognized and respected.”
This Montana House bill’s title specifically forbids the state’s university system board of regents from infringing on constitutional rights. Additional wording specifies the state’s university system is housed in public buildings on public property, so state laws, and not university wishes, apply. The bill also abolishes many gun-free zones.
“More than three dozen legislators from across Montana have made this one of the first pieces of legislation introduced in 2021 because their voters have pushed for it,” says Phil Noreen, with Noreen Firearms in Belgrade, Mont. “The primary purpose of this legislation is Section 3, part 4 that eliminates Gun-Free zones that are popping up across the state. That wording in the bill specifies: ‘Zones where guns are prohibited provide an increased risk to the health and safety of citizens because these zones create an unreasonable expectation of government-provided safety....’ This seems to be ignored by the mass media and it's been proven gun-free zones don't work.” Concealed carry would not, however, be permitted in public schools (grades K-12), courtrooms, federal buildings, and military facilities.
Neighboring state Idaho already has a similar law on its books. Eighteen states now have laws allowing permitless concealed carry of firearms, and there are more than a half dozen other states considering similar legislation this year.