HELENA, Mont. (Feb. 5, 2021) – Today, the Montana House gave final approval to a “Permitless Carry” bill that would make it legal to carry a firearm in most places in the state without a license. The enactment of this bill would foster an environment hostile to federal gun control.
Rep. Seth Berglee (R-Joliet) introduced House Bill 102 (HB102) on Dec. 31. The legislation would expand the places where Montanans can carry a firearm without a permit. Under the proposed law, Montanans could 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 proposed law, Montana residents could 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. The bill now goes to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk for his consideration.
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 would 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.
Gov. Gianforte will have 10 days from the date HB102 is transmitted to his office to sign or veto the bill. If he takes no action, it will become law without his signature.
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