Big Sky Roundup

House passes one concealed carry bill while Senate kills another

By: - February 25, 2021 5:34 pm

Guns and laws (Photo illustration by Darrell Ehrlick of the Daily Montanan)

A pair of bills in the House and Senate to expand the right to carry a concealed firearm in public buildings faced different fates during voting Thursday.

The lower chamber passed House Bill 436, sponsored by Rep. Scot Kerns, R-Great Falls, on a 66-32 vote. That bill will ban local governments from enacting ordinances preventing people from carrying concealed weapons in public buildings, something Kerns has said is necessary to create “uniformity” in law with regards to open and concealed carry.

However, the Senate narrowly voted down Senate Bill 158 24-26, which would have allowed legislators to carry a concealed weapons at the Capitol and any other state building, save for prisons. The body had previously voted in favor of the bill, but the proposal’s future changed abruptly in a final motion.

Republicans in favor of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Hinebauch, R-Wibaux, argued that they should have the right to protect themselves without broadcasting that they’re armed. Ultimately, however, several members of the GOP joined with Democrats in presumably killing the proposal.

Both of the bills come as the political climate around firearms in Montana is rapidly changing. One of the first bills that Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed this session was House Bill 102, which broadly legalized permitless concealed carry of firearms in Montana.

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Arren Kimbel-Sannit
Arren Kimbel-Sannit

Arren Kimbel-Sannit is an Arizona-bred journalist who has covered politics, policy and power building at every level of government. Before getting his dose of northern exposure, Arren worked as a reporter in all manner of Arizona newsrooms, for the Dallas Morning News and for POLITICO in Washington, D.C. He has a special interest in how land-use decisions affect working-class people, which he displayed through reporting on the epidemic of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. for the Los Angeles Times and PBS Newshour. He's also covered housing, agriculture, the Trump presidency and more.