Regents to Vote on Whether to Challenge New Campus Carry Law

Opponents of the campus carry law argue it infringes on the regents’ authority to manage the state's public colleges and universities

By Associated Press

HELENA – Montana’s Board of Regents will meet Wednesday to decide whether to challenge the constitutionality of a new state law that would allow people to carry and store weapons on the campuses of public colleges.

The board took public comment last week on its draft proposal to implement the law — which would allow students and staff who meet safety certifications to carry concealed firearms without a permit on campus starting June 1. A strong majority of those commenting on the proposal urged the board to file a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law.

Montana’s Constitution states the regents have the full power, responsibility, and authority to supervise, coordinate, manage and control the Montana university system.

Opponents of the campus carry law argue it infringes on the regents’ authority to manage the state’s public colleges and universities and would set a precedent for the legislature to continue to infringe on that authority.

Supporters of the new law questioned whether the Board of Regents could infringe upon the right to bear arms in the Montana Constitution.

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

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 said the Second Amendment right to bear arms in the U.S. Constitution isn’t unlimited.

“It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose,” the court wrote. The court also noted its ruling, which overturned a prohibition on gun possession in the District of Columbia, should not be taken to cast doubt on “laws forbidding the carrying firearms in sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings.”

The legislature appropriated $1 million for the university system to implement the campus carry law. The system would lose the money if it files a legal challenge because it would not be implementing the new law.