5 Things Before You Start Packing Heat in Billings
Gun legislation signed into law last week (2/18/21) by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte immediately enacted HB 102. This law removes the requirement that a concealed carry permit is necessary for a person to carry a firearm under clothing, in a purse or a glove box in the car.
Effective now, anyone who can legally own a firearm may carry one without a concealed carry permit nearly everywhere in Montana (with some exceptions, partially listed below). Montana is late to the game when it comes to "Constitutional Carry States", there are 17 others, which is somewhat surprising when the majority of Montanans are fairly pro-Second Amendment.
If you have never carried a concealed weapon and are thinking about it, here are some super-beginner tips:
- Take a class. Just because you can do something with zero training, doesn't mean you should. Especially when it comes to responsibly handling a gun. Training for self-defense in a high-stress situation can be invaluable.
- Learn the laws. If you think you're willing to shoot someone in self defense, knowing the Montana laws are a good idea. See #1.
- Get the correct holster. Don't be "that guy" (or girl) with a gun stuck in the waistband of your sweatpants. It's really unsafe. There are literally hundreds of different inside-waistband (IWB) and outside-waistband (OWB) models to choose from, at all price points. There are just as many opinions and reviews on what is best. A good belt helps. If you can, try different holster styles before you buy.
- Get the right size gun. For most people, trying to comfortably conceal a small .380 on their body is significantly easier than tucking away a full-sized 1911.
- Practice. This seems obvious, but tons of people buy guns that rarely get out of their box.
The Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office laid out the basics of the new law in a post on social media regarding where you can - and can't - carry a weapon in Montana.
- You CAN carry on the state capitol and university campuses.
- You CAN'T carry in courts and "where court business is being done."
- Private property owners CAN decide if you can conceal carry on their property or not.
- When in doubt, the YCSO recommends always ASK FIRST.
There is a benefit to keeping or obtaining a concealed carry permit, including entrance to additional government buildings. The Sheriff's Office post said,
People who have a current concealed weapons permit are now allowed to carry in government and some other buildings that was not previously allowed. If you are not sure, do some research to be sure that there is not an exception.
One of the benefits of having a permit includes the ability to carry concealed in other states where we have reciprocity agreements.
Certainly, more Montanans will start carrying and I generally support the new law. I do hope that newcomers to conceal carrying seek at least some basic training, with my main concern being accidental discharges. If you are thinking about carrying for the first time, reach out to local shooting ranges, gun stores and clubs for more info.