By James Bradley
Legislative News Service
UM School of Journalism

HELENA -- Representatives on the House Judiciary Committee heard public testimony on a bill Wednesday that would allow Montanans to carry a concealed firearm almost anywhere without a permit. 

As James Bradley reports, House Bill 102 would also allow people to carry a concealed firearm -- with a permit -- on state government property, including on university campuses. Citizens could also carry concealed firearms within the Capitol building.

However, the bill does allow private property owners to make their own firearms rules, but does not provide a punishment for people violating those rules.

Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, is the bill’s sponsor. He says the bill is a balance between the risk of accidental shootings versus the potential reward of a citizen stopping a shooter. 

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Brian Gosch spoke for the National Rifle Association in support of the bill. 

“We’re law abiding citizens -- we follow the rules -- but we all know the bad guys don’t. They don’t care what the rules are,” Gosch said 

Opponents of the bill, like Dylan Yonce, a sophomore at the University of Montana, say it loosens restrictions too much. 

“This is not an issue of freedom or individual liberty, it is an issue of student safety,” Yonce said.

The committee heard public testimony from 10 proponents and nine opponents, eight of whom joined the committee via Zoom.. 

Committee Chair Barry Usher, R-Billings, said that he would like the committee to vote on the bill Monday.

 

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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