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Montana University System to consider proposed gun policy

May 14, 2021 GMT

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A committee for the Montana University System Board of Regents has received feedback on recently passed legislation over the concealed carry of firearms on college campuses in the state.

The Board of Regents Academic, Research and Student Affairs committee held a meeting Wednesday to take public comment on its draft policy to implement the new law, which allows students who meet safety certification to carry concealed firearms without a permit, the Missoulian reported Wednesday.

The law removes the board of regents’ ability to enforce restrictions for guns carried on Montana campuses. Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law in February. It was in effect immediately across the state, but it will take effect for college campuses June 1.

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About 600 people attended the meeting virtually, and about 75 people commented on the legislation, including faculty and staff, students, parents and community members.

Lindy Kolb, a residence life worker and student at Montana State University, said she was opposed to the draft policy, referring to moments where she felt intimidated or threatened by residents.

“Guns are tools, but so are hot plates, and we don’t allow those in the residence halls for safety reasons,” Kolb said.

Many of the bill’s opponents urged the board to file a lawsuit to challenge the bill’s constitutionality.

The state’s Constitution says the Board of Regents “shall have full power, responsibility, and authority to supervise, coordinate, manage and control the Montana university system.” The bill was accompanied by a legal note flagging that concern.

However the university system could lose $1 million to implement the bill if legal action is taken by the board against the legislation due to a contingency, the Missoulian reported.

“Please do not let today create a precedent for the future that the legislature can overreach your authority as they please,” Associated Students of the University of Montana President Noah Durnell said urging the regents to pursue litigation.

Montana State University student Kagan Parm said he felt he wouldn’t be performing his responsibility as a student and citizen if he didn’t voice his support for the policy inspired by the new law.

“The fearmongering that’s occurring in this forum is pretty discouraging to say the least. To speak as though moving forward with this policy results in our campuses turning into a suicide cult or an old west shooting gallery is dishonest and emotionally manipulative,” Parm said.