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Montana Governor Vetoes Permitless Carry Bill

Thursday, May 12, 2011

On May 10, Governor Brian Schweitzer vetoed House Bill 271, the permitless carry bill introduced by state Representative Krayton Kerns (R-48).  You can read the Governor’s veto letter here.  HB 271 would have allowed any law-abiding individual who is eligible to possess a handgun under state or federal law to discreetly carry a firearm for self-protection within city limits in Montana without obtaining a concealed weapon permit.  

In his letter, the Governor states, “Obviously, this bill would greatly imperil the work and safety of Montana's lawmen, including sheriffs and highway patrolmen.”  However, this letter seems to ignore current law in Montana as well as the provisions of HB 271.

For the last twenty years, Montana law has allowed any law-abiding citizen who can legally possess a handgun to carry it concealed, without a permit, anywhere outside city limits.  So, no carry permit is currently required for law-abiding citizens in over 99% of the state, the area of Montana where sheriffs and highway patrolmen have primary jurisdiction.  There is twenty years of empirical data that shows the exact opposite of what the Governor claims.

Law-abiding Montana firearm owners know what is obvious:  that it makes no sense to allow them to carry concealed without a permit on one side of the city limit line but not on the other!  Law-abiding citizens do not suddenly turn into criminals when they cross the arbitrary boundary into a city.  Law-abiding Montana firearm owners also understand that it makes no sense to allow them to carry a firearm openly within city limits but require them to obtain a permit simply so they can put on a coat.

The Governor also wrote that HB 271 would “dismantle many reasonable Montana laws and regulations which ensure that permit-holders are not unduly burdened” and “void our state’s reciprocity agreements with more than thirty states that recognize concealed permits; and it would void our laws that allow Montana permit-holders to forgo the background check required for a firearm purchase.”  This is factually incorrect since HB 271 made absolutely no change to the concealed weapon permit system.  It simply added twelve words to one section of law that provides exceptions to the prohibition on concealed carry.

Please contact Governor Schweitzer today and express your disappointment at his veto of House Bill 271 and the misinformation on which the veto was based! The Governor can be contacted by calling (406) 444-3111.  You can also send him an e-mail message at brianschweitzer@mt.gov or leave a comment for Governor Schweitzer online by clicking here.

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