House District 58 Representative Republican Seth Berglee recently introduced House Bill 102, which will allow concealed or open carry of firearms in many places where they had been expressly forbidden in the past.

Berglee, a champion pistol marksman and U.S. Army veteran, described the focus of his bill.

“The first thing that it does is what I consider to be permitless carry so it allows you to concealed carry in most of the areas where you can currently open carry,” said Berglee. “So to me, Montana law is very prohibitive of concealed carry but very open on open carry. Concealed carry to me, coming from a strategic or tactical safety background, where negative public impact if you're in a tourist type area, concealed carry makes a lot more sense. I think it's a better and safer way to carry.”

Berglee further described areas where firearms could be carried.

“The second thing that it would do is allow permitted carry in a couple additional areas,” he said. “For instance, it allows carry in restaurants that serve alcohol or bars where you're currently allowed to open carry. I made that a permitted area or as allowed in the bill you would be able to carry in the State Capitol with a permit and as well as other state owned property.”

The most controversial aspect of Berglee’s bill would allow individuals to possess firearms on university campuses.

“The big one is campus carry,” he said “So it allows for students or anybody that meets the minimum requirements to get a concealed carry permit. To carry on campus, the weapon has to be in a case or holster. It can't be discharged on campus unless it's for self defense purposes. You can't keep it in a dorm room unless you have expressed written permission from somebody you might be living with. If it's not on your person, it has to be locked and secured. You can't carry in any area that serves alcohol for like a campus event.”

Berglee said his bill sailed through the House of Representatives on a partisan vote.

“It passed second reading yesterday. 67 to 33, so it had a party line vote with all Republicans voting yes and all Democrats voting no. Today it passed Third Reading over to the Senate. 66-31. In the third reading there were several people missing. But all Republicans voted for it again. I expect a strong showing in the Senate. I think this is the governor's priority and the current Attorney General (Austin Knudsen) is supporting it wholeheartedly.

Berglee said if HB 102 passes both houses that he has the Governor’s promise that he will sign it into law.

KGVO has reached out to officials on the University of Montana campus who testified against the bill, and will add their comments when they are received.

 

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