Moms Demand Action warns Legislature against loosening gun laws

Moms Demand Action volunteers gather in the Old Supreme Court Chambers in the Montana Capitol on Feb. 18, 2019. Photo by (Shaylee Ragar/UM Legislative News Service)

(UM Legislative News Service) About 50 volunteers for the Moms Demand Action group gathered in the Montana Capitol Monday to lobby against a bill that would prohibit local governments from implementing gun ordinances.

The national group, Moms Demand Action, aims to fight for stricter gun laws and was formed after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Head of the Montana chapter, Kiely Lammers of Billings, says House Bill 325 is a a step backward.

“Our number one priority is always stopping dangerous bills. We don’t want to dismantle gun safety bills that we already have in place,” Lammers said.

In 2016, Missoula’s City Council passed an ordinance that would require a background check for all gun sales in city limits. Attorney General Tim Fox is fighting the ordinance and is appealing several lower court decisions to the Montana Supreme Court.

Republican Rep. Matt Regier of Columbia Falls introduced his bill in committee on Feb. 1. He said in the bill’s hearing the goal is to “minimize confusions.”

“Without this bill, there will be a kaleidoscope of different gun laws that checkerboard our state,” Regier said.

The bill passed out of committee last week and is likely to be debated on the House floor in the coming days.

Lammers said her group will also be pushing lawmakers to consider “red flag” laws, which are used in other states to restrict gun ownership for people deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Lammer said she understands both sides of the argument.

“I get that people enjoy guns, that they want to have them around for protection. I understand all the reasons people want them,” Lammers said. “I just want to be a proponent of helping people understand it’s not an ‘either or.’ You can have both.”

Shaylee Ragar is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.