Good News For Montana (Updated)
The Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) is reporting today that the Montana self-defense bill, HB-228, is all but a done deal.
Good news: the Conference Committee stripped the provision that prohibited concealed carry in hospitals & health care facilities.
Bad news: "Vermont/Alaska" style carry was stripped from the bill early on. We still need permits, but as before, only inside incorporated cities or towns.
Here's what we get:
1. A clear policy statement by the Legislature that self defense is
a natural right and that self defense by citizens reduces crime.
2. A clear policy statement by the Legislature that the right to
bear arms in Montana is clearly a fundamental (important legal term)
and individual right.
3. Reversal of guilty-until-proven-innocent for people defending
themselves. This provision requires the state to prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that a person defending herself or himself was NOT
justified in using force, rather than the status quo, that defenders
must prove that they were justified in using force. Trust me, this
is very important.
4. Legislative declaration of policy that a defender has no duty to
summon help or flee before using force to defend, in any place.
5. Open carry is legal. This has been presumed in Montana, but
never stated in law. People have been arrested for open carry. This
will settle that issue for good.
6. A defender may announce "I have a gun," with no more fear of
prosecution under Montana's overbroad felony "Intimidation" statute.
7. Defensive display. A person may show an attacker that the
defender is armed, and may even draw the gun and still be clearly on
the right side of the legal line if the defender genuinely fears attack.
8. Requirement that when police investigate a scene where self
defense is claimed, investigators must collect evidence that may
support a claim of self defense as well as any other evidence.
9. Improved conditions for a defender to use force in any occupied
structure. This applies to all occupied structures, not just a dwelling.
10. Police may not destroy any firearms seized. Any firearms seized
must either be returned to the rightful owner or sold back into the
11. Landlords may not prevent tenants from possessing
firearms. This not only protects travelers staying in motels, but
also protects those who cannot afford to own their own homes.
12. Restoration of the right to bear arms for people convicted of
non-violent crimes who have done their time and been released from
state supervision. This will not apply to people who have committed
crimes of violence or crimes where a weapon was used.
13. The ability to use reasonable force to effect the citizen's
arrest of a person believed to have committed a crime - to be able to
hold the person until law enforcement can be summoned (as happened
yesterday in Thompson Falls).
14. An immediate effective date. All of this will become effective
while the ink from the Governor's signature is drying.