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Judge Extends Order That Blocks Campus Carry Law

Girl hiding a gun in her school backpack.
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Updated 06/07/21 at 7 p.m.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A state judge on Monday granted a request by the Montana Board of Regents to extend a temporary restraining order that blocked a new campus carry law from taking effect.

District Court Judge Mike McMahon on May 28 temporarily blocked the law that would have allowed students and staff to carry firearms on public college campuses. The law was to take effect on June 1.

Attorneys for the regents asked McMahon to extend the restraining order while the case is heard, the Montana State News Bureau reported. McMahon heard the request Monday morning and granted it in the afternoon.

The Montana university system has a long-established policy about the use, storage and access of firearms on campus, said Martha Sheehy, an attorney for the Board of Regents and a former regent. The new law interferes with that policy.

The Montana Constitution gives the Board of Regents the power, responsibility and authority to supervise, coordinate and control the university system, she said.

David Dewhirst, state solicitor with the Attorney General's Office, said the Board of Regents had been involved in negotiations of House Bill 102, which includes the campus carry provision, and only filed a lawsuit after hearing public opposition to the new law.

Dewhirst argued the Legislature has the authority to enact laws that enforce self-defense rights.

The Montana Federation of Public Employees along with former regents, students and faculty groups have also challenged HB102 along with other bills they argue overstep the Board of Regents' constitutional authority to control the university system. That challenge was filed in District Court in Gallatin County.

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