On April 28, the Montana Legislature adjourned sine die. Governor Brian Schweitzer signed into law three pro-gun bills, each of which will go into effect on October 1.
House Bill 159, sponsored by state Representative Carry Smith (R-55), will restrict the authority of the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission to regulate firearms and ammunition. The Governor signed HB 159 into law on May 12.
Senate Bill 124, sponsored by state Senator Rick Ripley (R-9), is a reorganization and re-codification of the Fish & Game criminal statutes and definitions. This bill includes a clarification of the suppressor statute that now legalizes the use of suppressors in the field except for hunting. Prior to SB 124, suppressors were legal to use on private property, but not on public land. This bill was signed into the law by the Governor on April 21.
Senate Bill 279, sponsored by state Senator Verdell Jackson (R-5), will allow Capitol Security to carry concealed weapons in the state Capitol. As originally introduced, this bill would have extended concealed carry to legislators, but its scope was narrowed during the legislative process. SB 279 was signed into law on May 12.
Unfortunately, Governor Schweitzer vetoed House Bill 271, permitless carry legislation, on May 10. HB 271 would have allowed any law-abiding individual who is eligible to possess a handgun under state of federal law to discreetly carry a firearm for self-protection within city limits in Montana without obtaining a concealed weapons permit.
Two other pro-gun bills failed to pass during the 2011 legislative session:
House Bill 368, sponsored by state Representative Wendy Warburton (R-34), would have provided that an employer could not prevent an employee from keeping a firearm in a locked vehicle in the company parking lot. HB 368 was tabled in the House Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 384, sponsored by state Representative Krayton Kerns (R-58), would have allowed concealed weapon permit holders to carry firearms in banks, bars and government buildings. HB 384 passed in the state House but was tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The NRA opposed anti-gun House Bill 496, sponsored by state Representative Mike Menahan (D-82), which would have required the destruction of firearms used in a crime of violence. While this bill passed in the state House, it was fortunately tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee.