Wednesday, June 29, 2022

More on guns

| December 22, 2021 12:30 PM

Recently a local newspaper included a story entitled “No Permit, No Problem,” about Montana joining the growing number of states allowing ‘constitutional carry’ of guns. Some proponents of the permitless carry bill argue that people needing protection quickly do not have time to take an eight-hour class or wait through the permitting process. I believe that by eliminating the requirement for gun owners to take classes and undergo background checks to carry a firearm, the likelihood increases that unhinged people with easy access to concealed firearms will put law enforcement and citizens at greater risk of harm.

For example, a Helena court recently sentenced a Montana man charged with felony assault with a weapon and two concealed weapons charges. Police alleged that he got into an altercation with employees at a Helena restaurant when he was asked to wear a mask. He reportedly threatened the restaurant manager and employees, at one point patting his handgun and saying, “I’m going to get you.” Montana’s attorney general Austin Knudsen told the Lewis and Clark County prosecutor to dismiss the concealed carry charges. Although the District Judge disagreed with Knudsen’s decision, she reduced the sentence to disorderly conduct, a $100 misdemeanor charge.

As another example, in a year-old newspaper article entitled “Flathead Man with Long Criminal Record Gets Prison Time,” a local man stole an unlocked truck containing a handgun. During three reported confrontations, he used the handgun to intimidate and threaten individuals. His criminal record dates back 20 years. He is precisely the wrong person you want having easy access to firearms.

I believe that those who threaten violence when asked by restaurant staff to follow public safety rules — or flee at high speeds armed with stolen guns — pose a danger to all of us. Making guns accessible to all without background checks invites lawlessness and chaos. There is an old adage: when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. We have arrived at a place, the Wild West, where all of us have guns including the outlaws.

Joseph Biby


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