February 22, 2021
By Mark Chesnut
We reported a few weeks back how lawmakers in several red states are considering constitutional, or permitless, carry measures in their state legislatures this session. Last week, Montana became the first state to put the new law into effect in 2021, making 18 states that now recognize the right to carry a firearm without having to receive government permission or pay a special fee or tax to do so.
“Our Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms is part of Montana’s, and our nation’s, rich heritage,” said Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte upon signing the bill on Feb. 18. “We have a responsibility to preserve it.
“Our Second Amendment is very clear: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Every law-abiding Montanan should be able to defend themselves and their loved ones.”
The bill also removes a number of Montana’s “gun-free zones” and ends the unnecessary disarming of Montanans as they go about their day-to-day lives. At the signing, Gianforte pointed out that only law-abiding citizens follow such laws anyway.
“Criminals don’t care about safe zones or gun-free zones,” he said. “Gun control measures don’t prevent criminals from perpetuating violence and other crime. Gun control measures step on the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
The measure passed both the state House and Senate on near party-line votes. The vote in the House was 66 to 31, while the Senate approved the measure by a 29-to-21 vote.
“It is long past due that law-abiding Montanans’ right to self-defense is respected without state barriers,” Rep. Seth Berglee said in a statement following the measure’s earlier passage in the House. “This bill modernizes Montana’s antiquated permitted and permitless carry laws to better reflect the safe carrying of firearms in the 21st century.”
The Treasure State was just one of nine states where lawmakers are currently considering constitutional carry legislation this session. Other states with an active constitutional carry measure under consideration include Tennessee, Utah, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Alabama, and Georgia.
The push for constitutional carry is at least partially in response to Democrat Joe Biden winning the presidency, promising four hard years of uphill battles for pro-gun advocates. After the election results were finalized, many states went on the offensive, with legislators pushing for not only constitutional carry but for other legislation that would negate any new federal gun laws.
A total of 18 states—Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming—now allow law-abiding individuals to carry a concealed handgun without a government-issued permit.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.