Montana voters pass preemption bill that limits local gun control laws

Nov 5, 2020 | Featured

The CPRC has written on the policy importance of state preemption laws on gun control. Almost all states today have a law prohibiting local jurisdictions from imposing gun control restrictions that are more severe than state law (the exemptions are Connecticut (Dwyer v. Farrell, 475 A.2d 257 (Conn. 1984) ), Hawaii (Richardson v. City and County of Honolulu, 868 P.2d 1193 (Haw. 1994)), Massachusetts (Connors v. City of Boston, 714 N.E.2d 335, 337-38 (Mass. 1999)), New Jersey (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 40:48-1(18). “Municipalities” refers to cities, towns, townships, villages and boroughs, but not counties. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 40:42-1), and New York (DJL Restaurant Corp. v. City of New York, 749 N.E.2d 186, 190 (N.Y. 2001))). It is surprising that Montana was one of the few with a very weak preemption law.

LR 130 strips the ability of local “a local government has the power to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons.”

“For public safety purposes, a city or town may regulate the discharge of rifles, shotguns, and handguns. A county, city, town, consolidated local government, or other local government unit has power to prevent and suppress the carrying of unpermitted concealed weapons or the carrying of unconcealed weapons to a <CUT>public assembly<CUT>, publicly owned and occupied building <CUT>, park<CUT> under its jurisdiction <CUT>, or school, and the possession of firearms by convicted felons, adjudicated mental incompetents, illegal aliens, and minors<CUT>”

“BALLOT LANGUAGE FOR LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 130 (LR-130),” Montana Secretary of State, LR 130.

Regarding the vote the Bozeman Daily Chronicle wrote:

Montana voters have decided to reduce local governments’ authority to regulate firearms. 

In Tuesday’s election, voters approved LR-130 by a slim margin — 51% to 49%. 

With the passage of LR-130, local governments can no longer regulate the carry of permitted, concealed weapons or restrict the open carry of firearms except in public buildings within the governments’ jurisdiction. Local governments also cannot prevent the possession of firearms by convicted felons, people with mental illness, undocumented immigrants or children.

Rachel Leathe, “Voters approve measure limiting local authority on guns,” Bozeman Daily Chronicle, November 5, 2020.

Here is a piece that we had before the election on the issues involved in a couple of newspapers in Montana.

Imagine driving your car along and the rules of the road keep changing from one city or county to another. Montana allows motorists to make a right turn after stopping at a red light, but what if that rule varied by city? The legal blood-alcohol limit is .08%, but what if some towns set it at .04% so the average person reaches it after just one drink? Different parts of the state may also have different rules as to when kids can stop using child car seats.

It would be chaos, and no one would seriously consider having such a patchwork quilt of differing traffic rules. Yet, that is exactly what gun control advocates have wanted to do with Montana’s gun rules. Local jurisdictions would have different rules on where you can carry, whether you are eligible to purchase a gun, and even what type of gun you can have. That is question at the heart of initiative LR130, which is on the ballot this November and would strengthen the state government’s pre-emption law — giving the state the final say on Montana’s gun laws.

Gun control advocates argue local citizens should be able to decide how to keep their communities safe. But safe driving advocates presumably feel the same way.

The legislative referendum was necessary because 15 local governments in Montana had adopted their own rules on where people could carry or on how firearms could be sold. Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a state pre-emption law, so the legislature put LR130 on the ballot. Bullock has vetoed 16 other gun bills that came to his desk and signed none.

Local ordinances are usually used to create gun-free zones, such as parks or particular buildings. These places are supposed to be safer because of it, but the opposite actually happens. Most criminals are smart enough to know they will be more successful if they commit crimes where victims can’t defend themselves. That’s one reason why 94% of the successful mass public shootings in America occur in places where citizens are banned from having guns. . . .

John R. Lott, Jr., “LR130 would prevent patchwork of gun laws,” Missoulian, October 22, 2020 and The Montana Standard, October 22, 2020.
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Nikki Goeser



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