HELENA, Mont. (Feb. 19, 2021) – Yesterday, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a “Permitless Carry” bill into law, making it legal to carry a firearm in most places in the state without a license. The enactment of this bill will also foster an environment hostile to federal gun control.
Rep. Seth Berglee (R-Joliet) introduced House Bill 102 (HB102) on Dec. 31. The new law expands the places where Montanans can carry a firearm without a permit. Under the law, Montanans can now carry a concealed weapon in public settings such as banks and bars regardless of whether they have a concealed carry permit. The bill also places limits on the restrictions that Montana colleges and universities can place on the possession of firearms. Under the law, Montana residents can still obtain a concealed carry permit to carry in states that reciprocity with the state.
The House initially passed HB102 by a 66-31 vote on Jan. 14. On Feb. 3, the Senate passed the bill 29-21 with some amendments. On Feb. 5, the House concurred with the amendments 68-30. With Gov. Gianforte’s signature, the law went into immediate effect. The provisions restricting firearms regulation on university campuses will go into effect on June 1, 2021.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL GUN CONTROL
While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless conceal carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.
The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”
Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.
State actions such as passing HB102 lower barriers for those wanting the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourages a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.