Montana Universities Prepare for Guns on CampusesBreaking News
tags: guns, Montana, colleges and universities
While most of the country is still reeling from shootings in Boulder and Atlanta this month, universities in Montana are preparing to allow guns on their campuses.
In February, Montana’s newly elected Republican governor, Greg Gianforte, signed a bill that will, in effect, allow open and concealed carry on the state’s college campuses. The new law officially allows guns in public spaces and strips the Montana University System and its Board of Regents of their ability to regulate firearm possession.
The system office and the board opposed the bill, and though they couldn’t kill it, they successfully argued for some adjustments. One is that universities can continue to prohibit guns at large athletic and entertainment events that have armed security on site; another is that the law won’t go into effect on campuses until June 1. That’s left them with just a few months to prepare.
“We don’t know what June 1 looks like,” said Brock Tessman, deputy commissioner for academic, research, and student affairs. The board of regents is considering options, including challenging the law in court, but the state’s Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education is simultaneously coming up with a plan to implement it. The board will vote on that plan in May.
“We’re starting to identify the particularly challenging aspects,” Tessman said, which include how the law works in residence halls, the requirements for those who want to carry a firearm around campus and not just store it in their dorm, and how the university will enforce policy violations.
Last week, the state’s House of Representatives passed a budget that includes $1 million to help the university system implement the law. The money is meant to help fund firearms training, metal detectors, gun safes in dorms, and awareness campaigns. But the university system won’t get the funding if they challenge the law in court.
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