Comment sent to the Montana
Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Higher Education
by the Montana Shooting Sports Association
April 7, 2021
Concerning implementation of HB 102 and campus carry
This message is official comment concerning the Board's pending
implementation of House Bill
102 of the 2021 Montana legislative session.
First, an introduction is in order. The Montana Shooting
Sports Association (MSSA) is the primary political advocate for
Montana firearm owners. MSSA was also the lead proponent for
HB 102 before the Legislature. MSSA is a nonprofit corporation
and has members in all Montana communities.
I wrote HB 102, as well as the campus carry bills introduced in
previous sessions of the Legislature. I am also the author of
of Montana, a trade paperback book now in its
Fifth Printing and the accepted reference on that subject.
Further, I am a veteran firearms safety instructor and accepted as
an expert in state and federal courts concerning firearm safety,
self defense, and related topics.
Some commentors may urge the Board to litigate the constitutionality
of the campus carry provision of HB 102, based on the authority
allowed the Board in Article X of the Montana Constitution to manage
the affairs of the university system. This issue is addressed
in Section 3(1) of HB 102 which says: " (1) Nowhere in Article
X, section 9(2)(a), of the Montana constitution is any power granted
to amend, suspend, alter, or abolish the Montana constitution, nor
is any power granted to affect or interfere with the rights the
people have reserved to themselves specifically from interference by
government entities and government actors in Article II of the
Montana constitution." This issue is also addressed by Section
5 of HB 102.
In addition, the HB 102 Sponsor addressed this question in his
response to a Legal Review Note about HB 102 by the Legislative
Services Division. That Sponsor's response is a part of the
legislative history of HB 102 and is attached as a part of this
This leads to the question, "What conduct may the Board regulate
under the law created by HB 102?"
First, it is useful to note that the Board has no authority to
create criminal sanctions or restrictions that apply to the general
public. The Board does have authority to adopt policies that
apply to two classes of people, university system employees and
university system students. These authorities will necessarily
only apply when people of these two classes are on campus - present
on property that is under the authority of the Board.
Then, the refined question posed to the Board becomes, "In what ways
may the Board apply its authority to regulate employees and students
The answer to this question is specifically detailed in Section 6 of
It may be useful to note that the limitations on Board authority in
HB 102 apply specifically to a "person eligible to possess a firearm
under state or federal law." Thus, persons not eligible to
possess firearms are subject to more restrictive policy adopted by
the Board. Further, for a person to be subject to the policy
limitations in Section 6 of HB 102, the person must also meet the
minimum safety and training requirements of 45-8-321(3)
In the final distillation of the authority allowed the Board under
HB 102, the Board may adopt policies that apply to employees and
students on campus, any such policies are strictly limited to the
list contained in Section 6(2), but only if the employee or student
is eligible to possess firearms and meets the minimum safety
training requirements specified in law.
HB 102's Section 6(2) is very specific about what conduct the Board
may regulate for these two classes of qualified people on campus.
This dramatically narrows and focuses the task the Board has to
fashion a policy consistent with HB 102.
Here is the list in Section 6(2) of HB 102, which is the limit of
what the Board is allowed regulate for qualified employees and
students on campus:
(a) the discharge of a firearm on or within university system
property unless the discharge is done in self-defense;
(b) the removal of a firearm from a gun case or holster unless the
removal is done in self-defense or within the domicile on campus of
the lawful possessor of the firearm;
(c) the pointing of a firearm at another person unless the lawful
possessor is acting in self-defense;
(d) the carrying of a firearm outside of a domicile on campus unless
the firearm is within a case or holster;
(e) the failure to secure a firearm with a locking device whenever
the firearm is not in the possession of or under the immediate
control of the lawful possessor of the firearm;
(f) the possession or storage of a firearm in an on-campus dormitory
or housing unit without the express permission of any roommate of
the lawful possessor of the firearm;
(g) the possession or storage of a firearm by any individual who has
a history of adjudicated university system discipline arising out of
the individual's interpersonal violence or substance abuse;
(h) the possession of a firearm at an event on campus where campus
authorities have authorized alcohol to be served and consumed; and
(i) the possession of a firearm at an athletic or entertainment
event open to the public with controlled access and armed security
The Board's new firearm policy, to be consistent with HB 102, will
contain no provisions limiting qualified persons that are more
restrictive than what is on this list. It will likely be a
simple restatement of this list, although the Board is allowed to
adopt a policy less restrictive than this list.
A restatement of this list with some comment and explanation is
attached for the Board's consideration and use.
Please feel free to contact me at 549-1252 or email@example.com to
discuss any of this.
Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
Sponsor's Legal Note Comment
DRAFT Campus Policy