Montana Gun Laws
- A. State Constitution
- B. Scope of Preemption
- C. Reciprocal Carry
- D. NFA Items
- E. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles
- F. Self-defense Laws
- G. Criminal Provisions
Montana is the fourth-largest state and is surrounded by Canada to the north, North and South Dakota to the east, Wyoming to the south, and Idaho to the southwest. Although it is a large state, the population is small and spread out, with Montana being only the seventh least-populous state in the United States. Open carry is legal in Montana even without a license to carry.
A. State Constitution
Regarding the right to bear arms, the Montana Constitution states:
“The right of any person to keep or bear arms in defense of his own home, person, and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but nothing herein contained shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.”
B. Scope of Preemption
The controlling language of the Montana preemption statute is set forth as follows:
“(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), a county, city, town, consolidated local government, or other local government unit may not prohibit, register, tax, license, or regulate the purchase, sale or other transfer (including delay in purchase, sale, or other transfer), ownership, possession, transportation, use, or unconcealed carrying of any weapon, including a rifle, shotgun, handgun, or concealed handgun.
(2) (a) For public safety purposes, a city or town may regulate the discharge of rifles, shotguns, and handguns. A county, city, town, consolidated local government, or other local government unit has power to prevent and suppress the carrying of concealed or unconcealed weapons to a public assembly, publicly owned building, park under its jurisdiction, or school, and the possession of firearms by convicted felons, adjudicated mental incompetents, illegal aliens, and minors.”
The plain language of this statutory provision leaves preemption an open question. However, each county sheriff can provide information on where concealed weapons are prohibited in their counties. Specifically, be sure to check local regulations, which may restrict carrying concealed weapons at public meetings, and in public parks and buildings. While this is a “friendly” carry state, specific county lists should be gathered to comply with all laws.
C. Reciprocal Carry
By statute, Montana will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes Montana’s license:
“A concealed weapon permit from another state is valid in this state if: (a) the person issued the permit has the permit in the person’s immediate possession; (b) the person bearing the permit is also in possession of an official photo identification of the person, whether on the permit or on other identification; and (c) the state that issued the permit requires a criminal records background check of permit applicants prior to issuance of a permit.”
Since there is no national carry license, as with the other states, some states are reciprocal with Montana and some are not. Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Montana Attorney General at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. States add and delete states with reciprocity agreements over time. Link to Montana AG list of permits it recognizes:
D. NFA Items
Montana permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law. Hunting with suppressors is legal.
E. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles
Montana permits anyone who is legally allowed to possess firearms to carry them in a motor vehicle without a permit, openly or concealed. The only exception is that a permit is needed to carry a handgun that is “wholly or partially covered by clothing or wearing apparel”. Therefore a permit would be needed to carry a concealed handgun on Your person, but not in the glove box.
F. Self-defense Laws
Montana has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat from any place You have a legal right to be. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into an occupied structure if You reasonably believe deadly force is necessary to prevent from assaulting an occupant of the structure or committing a forcible felony in the structure.
G. Criminal Provisions
Under Montana law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances, whether it is issued by Montana, or a person is carrying pursuant to a reciprocity agreement:
- In school buildings.
- Buildings owned or leased by the federal, state or local government.
- Financial institutions.
- Any place where alcoholic beverages are sold, dispensed and consumed.
- In local areas, some public meetings, and in public parks and buildings. [http://gunla.ws/mtcw]
For a list of places where carrying a firearm is prohibited, see: