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Montana Self-Defense Legislation Moving to the House Floor!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Please Contact Your State Representative Immediately!

On Friday, January 30, the House Judiciary Committee passed out House Bill 228, important self-defense legislation, on a 10-8 vote.  Unfortunately, three provisions of the bill were deleted before it moved out of committee.  It is critical that Montana NRA members and law-abiding gun owners contact their State Representatives to voice support for the bill with no further amendments. 

House Bill 228, sponsored by State Representative Krayton Kerns (R-58), is a broad piece of legislation that provides a number of specific protections for law-abiding citizens.  The provisions of HB 228 clarify and expand the fundamental right of self-defense and protect law abiding citizens from undue prosecution should they ever have to exercise the right.  HB 228, as amended by the House Judiciary Committee, still does the following:

  • Clarifies the ability of law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm in plain view and to display the firearm for harmless defensive purposes;
  • Allows a person who can lawfully possess a firearm and who doesn’t use it to commit a criminal offense to carry it concealed anywhere in the state without first obtaining governmental permission;
  • Prevents landlords and hotel operators from restricting law-abiding citizens’ self-defense rights;
  • Clarifies in statute the existing legal precedent that there is no duty to retreat from a threat before exercising the right to self-defense and allows a law-abiding citizen to use reasonable force in exercising the existing law that gives a private person the authority to arrest an offender;
  • Ensures that self-defense claims are adequately considered during incident investigations; and,
  • Shifts to the state, if self-defense is asserted by a defendant in a criminal case, the burden of proving an absence of justification. 

Amended out of HB 228 in the House Judiciary Committee were three provisions to limit employers’ ability to restrict employee possession of firearms on the job, to protect law-abiding citizens against seizure of their firearms absent an arrest and to provide reasonable attorney fees to a person who is accused of an offense and who is found to have acted in self-defense.

For a section-by-section analysis of HB 228 to help you better understand and communicate with legislators, please visit http://progunleaders.org/Self-defense/.  Note that sections 5, 6 and 9 of the bill, as discussed in this analysis, were the three removed in committee. 

It is very likely that HB 228 will come up on the House Floor in the next two days.  Please send an email to your State Representative TODAY and follow-up with a phone message tomorrow morning.  Respectfully urge them to support and protect your right to self-defense by voting for HB 228.  Please call (406) 444-4800 to leave a message for your legislators.  You may also use the “online message form” located at here.

If you don’t know who your legislator is click here.

Once you identify your legislator, you can find email contact information by clicking on his or her name at the following alphabetical listing of legislators: http://leg.mt.gov/css/Sessions/61st/roster.asp?HouseID=0&SessionID=94.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.