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Montana Expands Self-Defense Rights for Law-Abiding Citizens

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fairfax, Va. – National Rifle Association-backed legislation has been signed into law that enhances the right of self-defense for law-abiding Montanans. House Bill 228 was passed out of the House with a vote of 85-14 and the Senate 40-10.

"The overriding principle embodied in House Bill 228 is that self-defense is a fundamental right and this new law will reinforce that right," said Chris W. Cox, NRA’s chief lobbyist. “Law-abiding citizens should be afforded every opportunity to defend themselves and their loved ones and they should not be treated like criminals if they choose to exercise this important right."

House Bill 228 is a broad piece of legislation that provides a number of specific protections for law-abiding citizens. This new law clarifies the ability of law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm in plain view and to present the firearm for defensive purposes when threatened. Additionally, the law puts clearly into statute existing Montana case law providing that, when threatened, a law-abiding citizen has no duty to retreat if the person is in any place he or she has a legal right to be. Other provisions include expanding existing law to allow the use of force in defense of an occupied structure and preventing landlords and hotel operators from restricting self-defense rights.

“A second fundamental principal reflected in the language of House Bill 228 is the concept that a person is innocent until proven guilty,” added Cox.

HB 228 is a victims rights measure that further places the burden of the judicial system on the criminal. Any individual who acts in self-defense, and is able to prove that he or she acted in self-defense, will now be able to shift the burden of proving the absence of justification to the prosecution.

“This bill received overwhelming bipartisan support and NRA would like to thank Governor Schweitzer for signing the bill. Also to be commended are the efforts of lead sponsors, State Representative Krayton Kerns (R-58) and State Representative Deborah Kottel (D-20), for their continued support of the Second Amendment. The Montana Shooting Sports Association and Gary Marbut also played an instrumental role in this effort,” concluded Cox.

-NRA-

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation's leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military.

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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.