Opinion split over campus gun bill

By JEREMY GOULD/Montana State News

A bill to allow students to carry concealed firearms on Montana college campuses is facing dissent from both students and government officials.

“Statistically, firearms in a dorm are more likely to result in suicide than hypothetical situations,” said Kevin McRae, deputy commissioner of higher education, referring to events like mass shootings. He sees a “peculiar double standard” in the Legislature outlawing firearms in state buildings but working to approve them on college campuses.

“Common sense dictates that guns and college campuses do not mix,” said Gov. Steve Bullock after vetoing a similar bill in 2013.

Students have also expressed their distaste for the bill.

“With more guns come more problems,” said Montana State University student Isaac Miller on Wednesday. “I can’t see any way that would help things,”

Whitney Kara, a student at the University of Montana, expressed similar sentiments. “If I knew the same people that aren’t responsible enough to pick up their beer cans after the weekend had the right to carry a gun to class, I might want to find a school out of state.”

In its defense, the author of the bill, Sen. Cary Smith, said, “The Board of Regents does not have the right to take away our right to defend ourselves.” If the bill passed, the Montana Board of Regents would have its right to regulate firearms on campus revoked.

The bill narrowly passed the second of three readings by the Montana Senate by one vote. It must pass one more reading before being brought to the House for approval.

— Edited by Molly Wright

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