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Montana Gun Laws

Monday, April 27, 2020

STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION - Article 2, Section 12.

“The right of any person to keep or bear arms in defense of his own home, person, and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but nothing herein contained shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.”

Gun Laws Overview

RIFLES & SHOTGUNS HANDGUNS
Licensing of Owners No No
Permit to Carry No Yes*
Permit to Purchase No No
Registration of Firearms No No

* A permit to carry concealed is not needed outside the limits of cities or towns (see CARRYING).

The list and map below are included as a tool to assist you in validating your information. We have made every effort to report the information correctly, however reciprocity and recognition agreements are subject to frequent change.  The information is not intended as legal advice or a restatement of law and does not include:  restrictions that may be placed on non-resident permits, individuals under the age of 21, qualifying permit classes, and/or any other factor which may limit reciprocity and/or recognition.  For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation.  YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL.

RECIPROCITY NOTES: Florida recognizes a Montana permit if the permit-holder is 21 years old or older. Montana recognizes a North Dakota Class 1 permit only. Non-residents must meet the following criteria to carry a concealed weapon in Montana: the state that issued their permit must require a criminal records background check before issuing a permit; the permit must be in the holder’s possession, and the permit holder must have photo identification:  https://dojmt.gov/enforcement/concealed-weapons/ 

STATE STATUS
Castle Doctrine Enacted
No-Net Loss No Legislation
Right to Carry Confidentiality Provisions Enacted
Right to Carry in Restaurants Partial Ban
Right To Carry Laws Shall Issue
Right To Carry Reciprocity and Recognition Conditional Recognition
Right to Keep & Bear Arms State Constitutional Provisions With Provisions
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
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Click on a State to see the Gun Law Profile

 

Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms

Antiques

Montana statutes are silent on antique and replica firearms. They are treated as ordinary firearms for possession and carrying purposes.

 

Possession

No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun.

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State law, Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-313, prohibits “purposely or knowingly” possessing a firearm after a person has been convicted of a felony for which he or she received an additional sentence under Montana Code Ann. § 46-18-221 (for commission of an offense where the person knowingly displayed, brandished, or otherwise used a firearm, destructive device or other dangerous weapon), or any equivalent offense in another jurisdiction that would make the person liable to the additional penalty in Montana. A violation is punishable by a sentence of a minimum of two years’ imprisonment. This prohibition does not apply to a person who has been granted a permit to purchase and possess as described below. Mont Code Ann. § 45-8-313(3),

However, any person convicted of a firearm-prohibiting crime described above may apply to the district court for the county in which the person resides for a permit to purchase and possess one or more firearms. The county attorney or county sheriff may file a written objection to the application; however, if no objection is filed, the court may grant the permit if it finds that the person has shown good cause to purchase and possess the firearm or firearms listed in the application. If an objection is filed, a hearing must be held in which the court must decide whether the objection is valid and overrides the good cause showing and requires denial of the permit. Mont Code Ann. § 45-8-314.

A regulation makes it a condition of probation or parole that the offender is prohibited from using, owning, possessing, transferring, or controlling any firearm or ammunition (including black powder). Mont. Admin. R. 20.7.1101(5).

It is a crime for a prisoner to knowingly possess, carry or have a firearm while in custody and after being committed to a state prison or incarcerated in a county jail, city jail, or regional jail. This applies to any youth in custody in a youth detention facility, secure detention facility, regional detention facility, short-term detention center, state youth correctional facility, or shelter care facility. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-318. 

It is a crime to knowingly possess a sawed-off firearm, being a rifle or shotgun that, when originally manufactured, had a barrel length of 16 inches or more and an overall length of 26 inches or more in the case of a rifle, or 18 inches or more and an overall length of 26 inches or more in the case of a shotgun, and where the firearm has been since modified so that the barrel length, overall length, or both, are less than these specifications. This does not apply to firearms possessed by a person who has a valid federal tax stamp for the firearm issued by the federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives, law enforcement, a person in actual service as a member of the national guard, a bona fide collector of firearms if the firearm is a muzzleloading, sawed-off firearm manufactured before 1900, or firearms that are incapable of being fired and possessed for educational or scientific purposes. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-340.

It is a felony to possess (or use) a machine gun in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a crime of violence (any forcible felony, robbery, burglary, and criminal trespass) or for any other offensive or aggressive purpose. Mont. Code Ann. §§ 45-8-303, 304, 302 (definitions). An offensive or aggressive purpose is presumed when the machine gun is in the possession or use of any person who has been convicted of a crime of violence in any jurisdiction. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-305. 

It is a felony for a person to possess, manufacture, transport, buy, or sell a silencer with the purpose of using it to commit an offense, or knowing that another person has such a purpose. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-336.

It is unlawful for anyone except law enforcement personnel to purposely and knowingly possess, carry or store a weapon (including any type of firearm) in a school building, or for a parent of a minor to permit the minor to do so. A “school building” means all buildings owned or leased by a local school district that are used for instruction or for student activities, but does not include a home school. Mont Code Ann. § 45-8-361.

It is unlawful for a parent or a guardian to permit a minor under 14 years of age to carry or use a firearm in public unless the minor is accompanied by the parent or guardian or under supervision of a qualified firearms safety instructor who has been authorized by the parent or guardian. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-344.

A landlord or operator of a hotel or motel may not, by contract or otherwise, prevent a tenant or a guest of a tenant from possessing on the premises a firearm that it is legal for the tenant or guest to possess, although a landlord or hotel or motel operator may prohibit the discharge of a firearm on the premises, except those in self-defense. Mont. Code Ann. § 70-24-110.

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Purchase

No state permit is required for the purchase of any rifle, shotgun or handgun.

Carrying

The open carry of a weapon is generally allowed by any person who is not otherwise prohibited from doing so under federal or state law. A person carrying openly may communicate to another person the fact that the person has a weapon. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-3-111.

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“Concealed” is defined as a firearm that is wholly or partially covered by the clothing or wearing apparel of the person carrying or bearing the weapon. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-315.

It is unlawful to carry or bear a concealed handgun without a permit to carry, unless the person is (1) outside the official boundaries of a city or town or the confines of a logging, lumbering, mining or railroad camp, or (2) lawfully engaged in hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, hiking, backpacking, farming, ranching or other outdoor activity in which weapons are often carried for recreation or protection, or (3) carrying arms on the person’s own premises, home or place of business. Mont. Code Ann. §§ 45-8-316, 317.

Other exceptions to the prohibition on carrying concealed without a permit apply to the occupations listed at Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-317(1), including a law enforcement officer, a member in actual service of the national guard, a probation and parole officer authorized to carry a firearm, an agent of the department of justice or a criminal investigator in a county attorney's office.

Montana is a “shall issue” state with respect to carry permits. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-321(1).

An applicant for a permit must be a U.S. citizen, aged 18 or older, holding a valid photo identification issued by the state, and a resident of the state for at least six months. A criminal history record and background check of the applicant shall be conducted.

An applicant is not eligible for a permit if he or she:

  • is prohibited under Montana or federal law from owning, possessing, or receiving a firearm;
  • has a warrant outstanding for his or her arrest, or has been charged and is awaiting judgment in any state for a state or federal crime that is punishable by incarceration for one year or more;
  • has been convicted in any state or federal court of a crime that includes as an element certain acts, attempted acts, or threats, or any crime that is punishable by more than one year of incarceration, unless the person’s firearm rights have been restored;
  • has been convicted in Montana of carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence or of carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited place, and either has not been pardoned or less than five years have elapsed since the date of the conviction;
  • was dishonorably discharged from the United States armed forces;
  • has been adjudicated to be an unlawful user of an intoxicating substance and is under a court order of imprisonment or other incarceration, probation, suspended or deferred sentence, treatment or education, or other condition of release or is otherwise under state supervision; or
  • has been adjudicated by any court to be mentally ill, mentally disordered, or mentally disabled and is still subject to a disposition order of that court.

A sheriff may also deny an application if the sheriff has “reasonable cause to believe that the applicant is mentally ill, mentally disordered, or mentally disabled or otherwise may be a threat to the peace and good order of the community to the extent that the applicant should not be allowed to carry a concealed weapon.” Mont. Code Ann. §§ 45-8-321(1), (2).

An applicant must also demonstrate familiarity with a firearm by proof of completion of an approved hunter’s education, firearms safety, or law enforcement training course; possession of a license from another state to carry a firearm granted by that state upon completion of an equivalent course; or evidence that the applicant, during military service, was found to be qualified to operate firearms. As an alternative, at the option of the sheriff, demonstrating familiarity with a firearm may be satisfied by the applicant’s passing, to the satisfaction of the sheriff or the sheriff’s delegate, a physical test in which the applicant demonstrates adequate familiarity with a firearm. Mont. Code Ann. §§ 45-8-321(3), (5).

The sheriff must, within 60 days of the application, either approve the application and issue a permit or deny the permit. A permit is valid for four years from the date of issuance. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-321(1).

Officers or employees of a state or local government agency cannot ask a permit holder to submit information voluntarily in addition to what is required by an application or permit, and all of the information on the application is confidential. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(7).

The denial or revocation of a permit or refusal of a renewal is subject to appeal to the district court. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-324.

A sheriff or county is not liable for damages in a civil action by a person or entity claiming death, personal injury, or property damage arising from alleged wrongful or improper grant, renewal, or failure to revoke the permit, except for actions that constitute willful misconduct or gross negligence. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-326.

It is a crime for anyone, including a permit holder, to purposely or knowingly carry a concealed weapon while under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-327.

It is unlawful for a person, including a permit holder, to purposely and knowingly carry a concealed firearm in a prohibited place, being:

  • the portions of a building used for state or local government offices, and related areas in the building that have been restricted, unless the person is a legislative security officer authorized to carry a concealed weapon in the state capitol and who holds a valid permit to carry;
  • a bank or other financial institution during its normal business hours, unless the person is carrying while using the drive-up window, ATM, or unstaffed night depository, or where the branch is in a mall or grocery story or other place and the person is outside any enclosure used for the institution’s financial services or is not using its financial services; or
  • a room where alcoholic beverages are sold, dispensed, and consumed under a license issued for the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.

Mont. Code Ann. §§ 45-8-328, 45-8-317(1)(k).

Carrying or discharging firearms is prohibited in a game preserve created by the legislature or by the state fish and wildlife commission, unless authorized by the director by permit and in accordance with commission rules. Mont. Code Ann. § 87-5-401.

Unless permitted by the management of a railroad, it is unlawful for a person not authorized to carry a weapon in the course of the person’s official duties to knowingly or purposely carry or transport firearms on a train unless, prior to boarding, the person has delivered all firearms and ammunition, if any, to the operator of the train. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-339.

A concealed weapon permit from another state is valid in Montana if the person issued the permit has the permit in the person’s immediate possession, the person bearing the permit is also in possession of an official photo identification of the person, and the state that issued the permit requires a criminal records background check for permit applicants prior to issuance. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-329(1).

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Machine Guns, Magazines , Ammunition, etc.

A machine gun is defined as a firearm designed to discharge more than one shot by a single function of the trigger. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-302(2).

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It is a felony to possess (or use) a machine gun in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a crime of violence (any forcible felony, robbery, burglary, and criminal trespass) or for any other offensive or aggressive purpose. Mont. Code Ann. §§ 45-8-303, 304, 302 (definitions). An offensive or aggressive purpose is presumed when the machine gun is in the possession or use of any person who has been convicted of a crime of violence. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-305. 

This law does not prohibit or interfere with the possession of a machine gun for scientific purposes, or the possession of a machine gun that is not usable as a weapon and possessed as a curiosity, ornament or keepsake, or the possession of a machine gun for a purpose manifestly not aggressive or offensive. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-307.

It is a felony for a person to possess, manufacture, transport, buy, or sell a silencer with the purpose of using it to commit an offense, or knowing that another person has such a purpose. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-336.

Montana has no laws prohibiting or regulating “large capacity” magazines.

Montana defines “armor-piercing ammunition” as ammunition “which, if fired from a handgun under the test procedure of the national institute of law enforcement and criminal justice standard for the ballistics resistance of police body armor promulgated December 1978, is capable of penetrating bullet-resistant apparel or body armor meeting the requirements of Type IIA of Standard NILECJ-STD-0101.01 as formulated by the United States department of justice and published in December 1978.” State law does not prohibit or regulate such ammunition, although pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. § 46-18-224, anyone who is convicted of a crime in which bodily injury occurred or was attempted or threatened and who knowingly used or carried a handgun loaded with armor-piercing ammunition during the commission of the offense is generally liable to an additional sentence for the offense.

It is a crime to knowingly possess a sawed-off firearm, being a rifle or shotgun that, when originally manufactured, had a barrel length of 16 inches or more and an overall length of 26 inches or more in the case of a rifle, or 18 inches or more and an overall length of 26 inches or more in the case of a shotgun, and where the firearm has been since modified so that the barrel length, overall length, or both, are less than these specifications. This does not apply to firearms possessed by a person who has a valid federal tax stamp for the firearm issued by the federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives, law enforcement, a person in actual service as a member of the national guard, a bona fide collector of firearms if the firearm is a muzzleloading, sawed-off firearm manufactured before 1900, or firearms that are incapable of being fired and possessed for educational or scientific purposes. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-340.

Montana has no law prohibiting or regulating “assault weapons.”

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Preemption

Mont. Code Ann. § 7-1-111(9) prohibits a local government unit with self-government powers (municipalities that have adopted a charter with self-governing powers) from exercising “any power that applies to or affects the right to keep or bear arms, except that a local government has the power to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons.”

A separate provision that applies to other local governments states that a county, city, town, consolidated local government, or other local government unit “may not prohibit, register, tax, license, or regulate the purchase, sale or other transfer (including delay in purchase, sale, or other transfer), ownership, possession, transportation, use, or unconcealed carrying of any weapon, including a rifle, shotgun, handgun, or concealed handgun,” subject to the exceptions provided in that section. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-351(1).

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The exceptions include: (1) for public safety purposes, a city or town may regulate the discharge of rifles, shotguns, and handguns; (2) a county, city, town, consolidated local government, or other local government unit may “prevent and suppress the carrying of concealed or unconcealed weapons to a public assembly, publicly owned building, park under its jurisdiction, or school, and the possession of firearms by convicted felons, adjudicated mental incompetents, illegal aliens, and minors.” (Federal law already prohibits any possession or receipt of a firearm by a convicted felon, anyone adjudicated to be mentally incompetent, or an illegal alien.)

However, a local government exercising powers under § 45-8-351 cannot prohibit the legitimate display of firearms at shows or other public occasions by collectors and others, or prohibit the legitimate transportation of firearms through any jurisdiction, whether in airports or otherwise, or prohibit a legislative security officer with a concealed weapon permit from carrying a concealed weapon in the state capitol as otherwise allowed by state law.

The Supreme Court of Montana ruled on October 22, 2019 that the above exceptions in § 45-8-351 did not authorize the City of Missoula (a municipality with self-government powers) to pass an ordinance imposing a background check requirement on sales and other firearm transfers by non-dealers within city. City of Missoula v. Fox, 2019 MT 250 (Mont. 2019).

While the decision in the Missoula case was pending, the Montana State legislature enacted a revised preemption law, H.B. 325, which was vetoed by Governor Steve Bullock. Following the veto, a separate bill, H.B. 357, now places the preemption revision on the 2020 General Election Ballot for Montana residents to approve.

Local governments are also prohibited from bringing suit against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer for abatement, injunctive relief, or tort damages resulting from or relating to the design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition sold to the public. Under state law, Mont. Code Ann. § 7-1-115, this authority is “reserved exclusively to the state and may not be exercised by a local governmental unit.” The state may sue under this section on its own behalf or on behalf of a local governmental unit, or both.

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Range Protection

An established shooting range generally may not be prevented from operation by a state agency, unit of local government, or court unless the range presents a clear and provable safety hazard to the adjacent population. However, if a pressing public need exists because of incompatibility with nearby population or land use, an established shooting range may be relocated by an agency of state government, unit of local government, or court, but only if (1) the pressing public need is documented through hearings, testimony, and a clear and precise statement of need by the agency, unit of local government, or court involved; and (2) the agency or unit of local government obtaining the closure pays the appraised cost of the land together with improvements to the operators of the shooting range. In return the shooting range operators shall relinquish their interest in the property to the agency or unit of local government obtaining the closure. Mont. Code Ann. § 76-9-105(1), (2).

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The operation of a range may be suspended if the shooting range presents a clear and provable safety hazard to adjacent population, where (1) reasonable notice and opportunity to respond are afforded the range operators; and (2) a reasonable opportunity is afforded the range operators to correct any safety defects. Mont. Code Ann. § 76-9-105(3).

A planning district growth policy, recommendation, resolution, rule, or zoning designation may not: (1) prevent the operation of an existing shooting range as a nonconforming use; (2) prohibit the establishment of new shooting ranges, but it may regulate the construction of shooting ranges to specified zones; or (3) prevent the erection or construction of safety improvements on existing shooting ranges. Mont. Code Ann. § 76-9-104.

With respect to noise and public nuisances, Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-111(5) states that “noises resulting from the shooting activities at a shooting range during established hours of operation are not considered a public nuisance.”

While Mont. Code Ann. § 7-5-2109 authorizes a county government, by ordinance, to “regulate, control, and prohibit littering,” this has a specific exception for “lead, copper, or brass deposits directly resulting from shooting activities at a shooting range.”

Similarly, although state law allow a county government to prohibit conditions of “community decay” (a public nuisance created by allowing rubble, debris, junk, or refuse to accumulate resulting in conditions that are injurious to health, indecent, offensive to the senses, or obstruct the free use of property so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property”), “community decay” may not be used or applied to “normal activities at a shooting range.” Mont. Code Ann. §§ 7-5-2110, 7-5-2111.

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Miscellaneous

If a firearm is possessed by a law enforcement agency and the firearm was not purchased for agency use, the lawful owner of the gun cannot be located, and the gun is legal for any law-abiding individual to own, then the agency must not destroy the firearm but sell it to a licensed firearms dealer. Mont. Code Ann. § 46-5-313.

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It is a crime to purposely or knowingly supply, sell, or give possession or control of any firearm to a criminal street gang, where there is actual knowledge that the gun will be used to commit any crime listed in Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-405 by a criminal street gang. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-406.

It is unlawful to (1) remove, deface, cover, alter, destroy, or otherwise obscure the manufacturer’s serial number or any other distinguishing identification number or mark upon any firearm with the purpose to conceal, misrepresent, or transfer the firearm; or (2) possess, with the purpose to conceal, misrepresent, or transfer any firearm, knowing that the serial number or other identification number or mark has been removed or otherwise obscured. The fact of possession or transfer of any such firearm creates a presumption that the person knew the serial number or other identification number or mark had been removed or otherwise obscured. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-6-326.

It is an offence to willfully shoot a firearm within the limits of any town or city, or of any private enclosure which contains a dwelling house, unless the discharge is in lawful self defense or it occurs at an indoor or outdoor shooting range located within the limits of a town or city or in a private dwelling if the shooting range is approved by the local governing body. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-343.

It is unlawful to discharge a firearm from or upon a snowmobile. Mont. Code Ann. § 23-2-633.

It is unlawful to shoot game from any self-propelled or drawn vehicle or on or from a public highway. Mont. Code Ann. § 87-6-405(1).

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Montana NEWS
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Montana: Restaurant Carry Legislation Passed Out of House

Friday, February 24, 2017

Montana: Restaurant Carry Legislation Passed Out of House

On Thursday, the Montana House of Representatives voted 62-37 to pass House Bill 494.  This important pro-carry legislation ...

Montana: Restaurant Carry Legislation to be Heard on the House Floor Tomorrow

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Montana: Restaurant Carry Legislation to be Heard on the House Floor Tomorrow

Tomorrow, the Montana House of Representatives is scheduled to consider and vote on House Bill 494 on third reading. 

Montana: House Committee to Hear Restaurant Carry Legislation on Monday

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Montana: House Committee to Hear Restaurant Carry Legislation on Monday

On Monday, February 20 at 8:00am, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear House Bill 494.

Montana: Restaurant Carry Legislation Introduced

Friday, February 17, 2017

Montana: Restaurant Carry Legislation Introduced

This week, House Bill 494 was introduced in the Montana House of Representatives.

Montana: Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation Headed to the Governor’s Desk

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Montana: Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation Headed to the Governor’s Desk

Today, the Montana Senate approved House Bill 262 by a 31-18 vote. 

Montana: Pro-Gun Legislation on the Move

Monday, February 13, 2017

Montana: Pro-Gun Legislation on the Move

Currently awaiting a vote on the Senate floor is constitutional/permitless carry legislation, House Bill 262.

Montana: Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation Heads to Senate Floor for a Vote

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Montana: Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation Heads to Senate Floor for a Vote

On Friday, February 10, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed constitutional/permitless carry legislation, House Bill 262.

Montana: House Passes Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Montana: House Passes Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation

Earlier this week, the Montana House of Representatives passed constitutional/permitless carry legislation, House Bill 262.

NRA ILA

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.