Good news from Montana. HB262 allowing permitless carry passed the house. But there are still hurdles to clear, and you might be able to help.

Permitless Carry

Permitless Carry (aka Constitutional Carry) typically allows state residents to carry concealed without need of a permit to do so. Some restrictions may apply depending on the interaction of other laws of that state, so be responsible and do your homework.

But the good news is that, if passed, Montana’s concealed carry law would match its existing statewide open carry law.

Today, their laws specify a list of exceptions of when concealed carry is allowed (cops, permit holders, etc.) You can read the current Montana law here, which also hotlinks to other referenced laws in the wording.

HB262 adds the phrase “a person eligible to possess a handgun under state or federal law” to exception (g), which grants concealed carry to recognized permit holders as well.

Remaining Hurdles

HB262 is an identical repeat of the text of HB298 from 2015, which you can read here.

HB262 has made it through the house and is waiting to start in the senate. Since the previous HB298 made it all the way to the governor’s desk, things look good for HB262 clearing the senate.

You can check the current progress of HB262 on the Montana legislature site here, and the Montana Shooting Sports Association in Missoula has a good primer on the Montana Legislature procedures here. If this interests you, you can follow the progress from the Legislature site through each procedural step.

Sadly, the previous HB298 died at the Montana Governor’s desk by veto in 2015. Democrat Steve Bullock was quoted in the Billing Gazette writing, “I cannot support an absurd concept that threatens the safety of our communities by not providing for the basic fundamentals of gun safety or mental-health screening,” when he vetoed it.

Governor Said What?

Is there some sort of genuine danger to the public the governor is aware of? Let’s check it out.

The bill (currently HB262, previously HB298) exempts from the conceal carry permit requirement any person “eligible to possess a handgun under state or federal law.” So, if you’re clear to have the gun, you’re clear to carry concealed as well.

So does the permit process provide some sort of necessary step in the interest of public safety?

The quick summary at USA Carry explains that a Montana resident who applies at the sheriff’s office gets a permit valid for only 4 years so long as they can show some sort of approved firearm safety training, or a valid permit from Montana or from elsewhere which Montana honors, or be a veteran who was allowed to use guns in the military. (Hoo-rah vets!)

Then the sheriff runs a NICS check and if the applicant passes (and pays fees, etc.) he gets his permit.

So what would the bill change? What crucial protection does it remove such that the governor calls it an “absurd concept?” You’d have to pass a NICS check buy the gun, right?

Basically, it removes a step of the nanny state periodically checking up on you. At an FFL dealer, you’d have to pass a NICS check to make your purchase (or show a permit for which you likely had to pass a NICS check). But there are places to legally obtain a firearm without jumping through NICS.

Why do gun control advocates think someone who would illegally obtain a firearm, especially with intent to break some other law against violent crime, suddenly stop dead in his tracks because he’s not legally allowed to carry concealed? (Flight from reason doesn’t ever make sense.)

Basically, if you’re a law-abiding Montana resident who owns a gun, the Democrat governor wants to verify that some official told you how to safely handle it, and check up on you every 4 years to make sure you didn’t lose your 2nd Amendment right in the interim. If HB262 passed, we’d have to trust our fellow law-abiding citizens to handle firearms responsibly; that they took responsibility to learn how to safely handle it, and quit carrying a firearm in public if they actually lose the right to possess said firearm.

Take Action

If you are a Montana resident, you have the right to speak at the senate committee hearing current scheduled for Feb 08 at 9am local time at the state capitol.

The Montana Shooting Sports Association has some good advice to make sure it goes well for you.

You might also, (as a responsible, law-abiding voter) contact your governor and let him know you object the accusation that your 2nd Amendment right “threatens the safety of our communities” without the government regularly screening you.