Gov. Bullock Vetoes Concealed Carry without Permit

By Beacon Staff

HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock has vetoed a measure that would have allowed any person who is eligible to own a firearm to carry a concealed weapon without a permit within cities.

House Bill 304 was one of four bills the Democratic governor vetoed Friday. The weapons bill passed the Republican-led Legislature mostly along party lines.

The measure would have bypassed a local sheriff’s authority in issuing concealed-carry permits by allowing anyone who can own a gun to do so.

“If the logic of HB 304 were applied to other situations, there would be no need for a person to be licensed before driving on our highways — all they would need to do would be to determine whether they were eligible to drive,” Bullock said in his veto letter to Senate President Jeff Essmann and House Speaker Mark Blasdel.

Bill sponsor Rep. Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel, said the measure would give city dwellers the same privilege as rural residents by allowing them to carry concealed weapon within city limits.

The governor vetoed three other bills. One would have set a 180-day deadline for agencies to create regulations to implement a new law.

Another would have required state legislative analysts to determine the financial effect of a bill on private businesses.

The third would have allowed individual legislators to intervene in legal challenges filed against bills they sponsor. Bullock said that bill would have breached the separation of powers because it is solely the executive’s duty to defend the state’s laws.

Bullock sent another five bills back to lawmakers with proposed changes, three of them dealing with revamping renewable energy standards.

Among the 24 bills that the governor signed into law was one that allows a judge to assign a tier level to sex offenders who don’t have one. Sex offenders are supposed to be designated as tier 1, 2 or 3, with tier 3 being the highest risk.

But more than half of registered sex offenders don’t have a designated tier level because they were convicted before that system took effect, according to the attorney general’s office.

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