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Montana regents ask state high court to block campus gun law

May 21, 2021 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Board of Regents on Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to block a new law that would allow people to carry guns on public university campuses while the justices decide who has the constitutional authority to set such policies.

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The regents voted unanimously Wednesday to challenge the parts of House Bill 102 that would allow students and staff who meet safety certifications to carry concealed firearms without a permit on campuses starting June 1.

Montana’s Constitution says the regents have the full power, responsibility and authority to supervise, coordinate, manage and control the state university system.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Seth Berglee of Joliet, said in a statement Wednesday that it is “unfortunate that the Board of Regents has chosen to sue to block HB102 because they think their authority is so absolute that they can deny a student’s constitutionally protected rights.”

The U.S. Supreme Court said in a 2008 ruling that the Second Amendment right to bear arms isn’t unlimited. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose,” the court wrote.

The high court also noted that its ruling, which overturned a ban on gun possession in the District of Columbia, should not be taken to cast doubt on “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings.”

The Montana complaint names the state of Montana as the respondent.

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This story has been corrected to say that the lawsuit named the state of Montana as the respondent, not the Montana Legislature and the Department of Administration.