Firearms Owners Against Crime

Institute for Legal, Legislative and Educational Action

Montana state legislator proposes interesting amendment :: 03/18/2023

Most of what many of us know about Montana comes from watching Yellowstone, it seems. I can’t speak about how accurate the show is, but the few folks I know from there love it, so they must be getting something right.

So, I suppose it’s not much of a shock that the semi-libertarian sensibilities we see in the show are pretty true to life.

How true to life? Well, the state passed constitutional carry recently. Now, a lawmaker wants to make it part of the state constitution.

If Democrats regain political power in Montana in the future, it’d be good to have gun rights soundly secured in the Montana Constitution.

That’s the argument Rep. Braxton Mitchell, R-Columbia Falls, made Wednesday with a supermajority of Republicans in control of the Montana Legislature.

In the House Judiciary Committee, Mitchell argued in favor of a bill that would ask voters to amend the state constitution to protect the rights of gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without a permit — as the legislature did last session in statute.

Currently, Article II Section 12 of the state constitution protects the right to bear arms, but not under all circumstances:

“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.”

House Bill 551 would strike out the last portion of the provision, the exception against concealed weapons.

The bill has about 50 cosponsors, which is good, but because it’s a constitutional amendment, it requires a two-thirds majority.

Yet it might just happen, which will be interesting, to say the least.

It’s not particularly easy to amend the Montana state constitution, which is kind of the point. Should Democrats regain power in the state, constitutional carry is bound to be a target for them. Making it part of the state constitution will make it much harder to repeal.

At least in theory.

See, the bill basically just strikes out a bit of a sentence that precludes the constitution from being interpreted to allow the carrying of a firearm without a permit. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be interpreted as such with that part omitted.

That would be something for the courts to decide and I fear that if the wrong court gets hold of it, the ruling will basically make it so not much is impacted.

But I’m not a lawyer, so I could be way off base with that.

Still, the idea of constitutional carry being preserved via constitutional amendment tickles me in ways that border on unseemly. Especially if it’s interpreted to expressly protect constitutional carry.

If so, Montana might well lead the way going forward on the new frontier of pro-gun legislation. It would be amazing to see constitutional carry states do the same and watch the anti-gun crowd crumple in tears because they can’t do anything about it.

What a glorious state of affairs that would be.

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