With the current social climate at hand, you might be asking yourself why this issue is up for discussion. The recent rioting at the U.S. Capitol building, as well as this decade’s rise in mass shootings, must give weight to the idea of carrying a firearm on campus — should private individuals be able to exercise their second amendment right to keep and bear arms on the grounds of public entities, specifically universities?
House Bill 102, proposed by Montana House Rep. Seth Berglee (R-Joliet), was created with the intent to remove the current limitations in Montana state law to further preserve the rights guaranteed in the Montana constitution. Specifically, the bill looks to guarantee the establishment of the fundamental right to defense of a person’s life, liberty or property.
Should law-abiding citizens have the ability to protect themselves when on campus and off-campus? I believe the answer is yes. “Anywhere a criminal has the ability to be armed, I think a law abiding citizen should have the right to be armed,” Berglee told The Missoula Current. There is a very important distinction in this quote, “...anywhere a criminal has the ability to be armed.” The only people that are affected by the current lack of ability to carry on campus are law-abiding people. A criminal is someone who breaks the law. If someone chooses to break the law there is nothing we can do to stop them, we can only punish them after the crime has been committed. This bill hopes to give law-abiding individuals like myself the ability to defend ourselves and others against the malicious intentions of criminals who threaten our fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Rep. Frank Garner (R-Kalispell) told The Choteau Acantha, “I’m sorry I don’t agree with all my brothers and sisters on this, but it is time for us to provide the opportunity for law-abiding citizens in our communities [to concealed carry]. Criminals be warned — that’s what we’re doing here today. We’re empowering the citizens of Montana.”
The greatest opposition opinion in the Montana legislature is held by Senate Minority Whip Sen. Diane Sands (D-Missoula). “A bill that would allow guns on campus could cost Montana State University and the University of Montana at least $4.5 million each – every year,” Sands told The Missoula Current. “Those estimated costs include funds for security guards, additional training, metal detectors, lockers, cameras and emergency dispatch equipment.” Although Sands is very passionate about her opposition to this bill, I believe her concerns to be baseless. The installation of infrastructure such as metal detectors, lockers and additional cameras is far from necessary since universities will not have the ability to enforce or control the legal carrying of a firearm on campus. Universities have no jurisdiction over firearm legislation in Montana, the role belongs to the law and justice organizations across the state, not the university systems.
In conclusion, I will leave you with this thought: Should your security and your ability to protect and defend yourself and others be preserved on public property? Furthermore, should your fundamental right to self-defense be forfeited the moment you walk across the street to Roberts Hall, step onto the sidewalk near the dorms or drive into the parking garage?