The Montana Board of Regents, the appointed body that provides governance and administration of the Montana University System, voted unanimously on Wednesday to seek judicial review over HB 102 that allows students to carry firearms on campus.

In their ZOOM meeting, Chair of the board Casey Lozar noted the amount of public comment opposing the legislature’s seizure of authority over matters pertaining to university policy.

“It's clear, based on the volume of comments that we received, that this is an issue that is incredibly important to our citizens,” said Lozar. “It's also clear that an overwhelming number of the individuals that have engaged with this body have concerns about the preservation of the constitutional authority of our board, and I think each and every one of you have underscored that concern as well.”

Brian Syko, an instructor at MSU Great Falls spoke in favor of the legislature as it emphasized the importance of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, that the right to bear arms ‘shall not be infringed.’

“But as far as it goes strictly on preserving academic freedom and academic control versus constitutional rights of the citizens, I think that there's an overreach, and there is a an area where the state legislature does need to protect those freedoms and rights, as well as the health and safety of its students and of its citizens,” said Syko.

One of the members of the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention, Missoula’s Mae Nan Ellingson provided support for the board’s decision.

“It's not easy to challenge the legislature as they clearly control the purse strings,” said Ellengson. They have seemingly used that power to prevent you from challenging HB 102. They've also sought your acquiescence on this power grab by granting you the right to impose regulations implementing House Bill 102 on campus. That is not the legislature's to give.”

Chairman Lozar closed with this statement.

“The board really does value and respect the legislative process and, and will continue to work in good faith with our legislative partners,” he said. “At the same time, I believe it's our right if not our obligation for us to seek this judicial review of House Bill Two to honor the constitutional balance that is affirmed in the Montana Constitution and the powers that are invested to the Board of Regents.”

Here is the closing statement from the Board of Regents following their meeting:

‘The Board recognizes that members of our communities have many diverse viewpoints, and, in particular, on whether firearms should be allowed on campus.  It was this feedback from Montanans that helped inform the Board decision to pursue this judicial review.  We look forward to a resolution of this issue and will continue to focus on ensuring the safety of students, faculty, and staff, and all those who visit our campuses.’

 

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