Contact your state Senator immediately!
House Bill 174, legislation to legalize the use of suppressors, and House Bill 271, a bill to allow concealed carry within city limits without a permit are advancing in the Montana Senate. Both bills are sponsored by state Representative Krayton Kerns (R-58), and they need your help!
Today, a blast motion pulled House Bill 174 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and it is now pending for a vote on the Senate floor. HB 174 would legalize the possession and use of suppressors by a person in the field or forest. Firearm suppressors are legal under both federal and state law but their use for hunting and/or shooting outside a range is prohibited. HB 174 would legalize the use of suppressors in the field by repealing Section 87-3-123, MCA.
Anyone who has ever fired a gun knows that gunfire is loud. It can cause immediate and permanent hearing loss. While suppressors do not eliminate the sound of a firearm, they do reduce the muzzle report of the gun in the same way that a muffler reduces exhaust noise from a car or truck. There are many benefits to suppressors: they can increase accuracy, they make shooting more enjoyable by lessening felt recoil and reducing muzzle blast, they protect shooters’ hearing, and they help to reduce noise complaints from neighbors. Opponents, led by FWP, allege that HB 174 will increase poaching by allowing poachers to hide their illegal actions. This is preposterous! First, any person who has gone through the massive bureaucracy and expense to own a legal suppressor is not going to jeopardize their investment by using it illegally. Second, contrary to what is portrayed in the movies, suppressors do NOT silence firearms. There is still a very loud muzzle blast and, more significantly, there is the sonic “crack” of the bullet down the entire trajectory of its travel. Opponents are either grossly misinformed or are intentionally lying in an effort to kill this very reasonable bill.
The Conference Report for House Bill 271 is also pending on the Senate floor. The current language of HB 271 simply states that the prohibition on concealed carry does not apply to “a person who is eligible to possess a handgun under state or federal law.”
Existing law allows any person who can legally own and possess a firearm to carry it openly, either loaded or unloaded, anywhere in the state, including within city limits. Additionally, law-abiding citizens are authorized to carry firearms concealed, without a permit, anywhere outside city limits. Law-abiding citizens do not suddenly turn into criminals when they cross the arbitrary boundary into a city. It makes no sense to allow them to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense without a permit on one side of the line but not the other!
It is imperative that you contact your state Senator immediately and urge him or her to support HB 174 and HB 271. All state Senators can be reached via phone at (406) 444-4800 and via e-mail by clicking here. If you need help identifying your state Senator, please click here.