Last week, Governor Steve Bullock vetoed preemption legislation, House Bill 325. Following the veto of this legislation, House Bill 357, a bill that ran concurrently with HB 325, will now place the issue on the 2020 General Election Ballot for Montana residents to consider.
Local municipalities in Montana have stretched the state’s preemption statutes to their own ends by passing anti-gun laws ranging from criminalizing private transfers to banning where people can lawfully carry a firearm for self-defense. These types of unnecessary anti-gun ordinances impose further burdens on law-abiding gun owners in Montana by creating different laws relating to firearms purchase and possession from one municipality to another, putting gun owners at risk of unknowingly violating a law. House Bill 325 and House Bill 357 seek to strengthen Montana’s current preemption laws by further restricting the ability of local municipalities to enact a complex patchwork of gun laws throughout the state.
In the Governor’s veto letter, Bullock makes the preposterous implication that HB 325 and HB 357 would allow “felons and the mentally ill” to carry firearms in public. Regardless of state or local laws, such persons are already prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms, let alone carrying them in public. Further, Bullock asserts that HB 325 and 357 would end local decision-making about concealed weapons and that such is NOT good policy. He takes this position because, like the anti-gun local officials who impose greater restrictions on law-abiding citizens than are found in state law, Bullock naively believes that criminals will obey gun control laws. Governor Bullock resorts to fearmongering by ending his veto letter with the warning that HB 325 eliminates “local control over whether the mentally ill may bring guns into schools.” Such fearmongering demonstrates how disingenuous this Governor really is. He knows that federal law already restricts the possession of firearms in schools and school zones, with persons who have been adjudicated as mentally ill being prohibited from legally possessing firearms in any place, AND that this bill does not change the fact that local school district trustees already have the authority to restrict who can possess firearms in schools.
Stay-tuned to NRA-ILA for more information and updates regarding this issue.