HELENA — A bill that would allow concealed carry of firearms without a permit in most places in Montana, including the state Capitol, passed the House Judiciary Committee on Monday as the FBI was warning of armed protests at state Capitols across the country before President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The bill passed along party lines, with all 12 committee Republicans in favor and all seven Democrats opposed. The bill now goes to the Republican-controlled House.
The bill would also allow concealed carry of firearms on public university campuses in Montana. An amendment by Rep. Ed Stafman, D-Bozeman, to remove the section of the bill pertaining to universities failed in a partisan vote.
The Montana university system’s Board of Regents is currently permitted to limit firearms on its campuses. Stafman said that changing that rule would make campuses less safe for students because of unsafe gun use and increased suicide rates.
“This bill would steer good students away from Montana universities to places where their parents will expect that they can be safe,” Stafman said.
Bill sponsor Rep. Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, responded that “gun free zones are the areas where mass shootings do take place,” and that the Legislature should protect the Second Amendment.
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