by Pamela Owen, Moms Demand Action
As a Montanan, wife of a gun owner, proud believer in Montana’s outdoor heritage, and a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, I cannot sit on the sidelines during this legislative session. Our elected leaders are considering a package of dangerous bills that would not only roll back our current, common-sense permitting requirements, but would also allow guns in sensitive places like bars and college campuses. These reckless bills tear at the fabric of our sensible gun laws. Instead of proposing laws that would make our families and communities safer, these bills’ sponsors would put us all at risk.
Numerous groups have spoken out against these bills, including the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, Montana Police Protective Association, Montana Human Rights Network, Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America.
You have to wonder: Considering the strong opposition, who is really pushing this agenda? We must speak out and makes e sure our voices are heard.
Let’s start with House Bill 298 and HB 533. Both bills would dismantle Montana’s current concealed carry permit system. If passed and signed into law, these pieces of legislation would allow individuals without any prior training and those who have been convicted of weapons offenses to carry concealed loaded handguns in public. There will also no longer be a way for law enforcement to prevent people who exhibited dangerous behavior from carrying loaded hidden guns in public. That means our communities—our streets, our malls, and our farmers’ markets—could be at risk. I believe Montana’s sheriffs know best when it comes to protecting the communities they serve. People should continue to receive firearm training before they carry concealed loaded handguns in public. It’s just common sense.
Next up we have SB 143. This bill would force public colleges and universities to allow the concealed carry of loaded handguns on campuses across our state. Currently, public colleges and universities have the authority to decide whether they want to allow guns on campus, but SB 143 would revoke their authority to make this very critical public safety decision. Our legislators are pushing this bill despite widespread opposition from the people who would be affected the most. Indeed, 78% of students, 95% of college presidents, and 89% of police chiefs reject campus carry.
Schools have consistently opted against campus carry, and it’s currently not allowed anywhere in the state. I would love my kids to attend the same college their parents did, but I won’t sacrifice their safety. College life is full of risk factors like alcohol and drug abuse. Our young people are making impulsive decisions, and we need to ensure that university officials have the tools to protect them.
We should also consider the financial implications of this bill. In the first year after Idaho passed similar legislation in 2014, the necessary security upgrades have cost $3.7 million for five Idaho schools. Our schools are routinely suffering from budget shortfalls, and should not be asked to shoulder this new expense.
Our elected leaders should support legislation that makes our families and communities safer—not laws that would put us at risk. Protecting our Second Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with common sense measures that keep us all safe. As a mother, as a Montanan, as a community member, I ask you to raise your voice and speak out against these senseless bills.
To speak out against these dangerous bills, please click on the link below.
To learn more about Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, go to www.momsdemandaction.org.