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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

House Votes To Remove Restrictions On Concealed Carry

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The Montana House Wednesday approved a bill to let anyone carry a concealed weapon if they’re legally eligible to own a handgun. Gun owners would no longer need to get a concealed-carry permit.

Republican representative Bill Harris of Winnett said mass shootings, like the one in a Colorado theater in 2012, might not happen if more people carried concealed weapons.

“Picture yourself or your children seated in a theater when a crazed shooter begins to kill people in their seats," Harris said. "Now the question to ask is, would you prefer this to be a gun free zone, knowing everyone there is unarmed. Or would you hope that a person or persons eligible to possess a handgun would immediately respond?”

Rep. Bill Harris
Credit Montana Legislature
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Rep. Bill Harris (R) HD29

Twelve people died and 70 were injured in the theater shooting in Aurora. But Bozeman Democrat Tom Woods argued that Harris’ bill would have unintended consequences.

“Pretty much everybody will be permitted to carry concealed weapons. Everybody will be allowed to carry knives, guns, brass knuckles, and swords disguised as walking sticks. Is that really what we want to do?”

The bill passed on a largely party-line vote, 58 to 42. Only one Republican joined all the Democrats in voting no. That was Kenneth Holmlund, of Miles City.

The bill gets one more vote in the House before heading to the Senate.

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