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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Legislators Hear Bills To Expand Concealed Carry Rights

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Today, Montana legislators heard bills to expand gun rights. House Bill 371, would allow permit holders to bring their concealed weapons into public places.

Republican Representative Kerry White says training needed to get a permit should allow people to carry a concealed weapon into most public places except bars.

“Purpose for this was if you’re out with your family and you’ve got your concealed weapon and you want to stop... you can go in and sit and have dinner without worrying about being arrested.”

Under White’s bill, people could take their firearms nearly anywhere unless a private business bans it.

Representing the City of Missoula, John MacDonald pointed out the law would also require booths where people would check their guns at public places, adding costs and dangers. Additionally, he says certain places should be protected.

“We believe there should be buildings where firearms should be excluded except in the hands of...law enforcement officers.”

No immediate action was taken on the bill.

Legislators also heard a bill that would let anyone who can own a gun to carry a concealed weapon, no permit needed. Republican Bill Harris is carrying House Bill 298 and says it’ll make Montana safer.

“They’re actually going to be more safe, but they’re going to feel less safe because they're depending on this system of permitting for their own defense and safety and it doesn’t offer that at all.”

Opponents came to say the opposite, fearing more people would carry their weapon if it was concealed. Beyond that, many feared the loss of the permitting process including background checks and training. Retired military police officer John McDaniel says even with the training for concealed weapons, those carrying concealed more often may create a larger problem.

“Being good guys, criminality not being an issue, everybody has accidents with pistols.”

No immediate action was taken on the bill.

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