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A bill expanding the places where an individual can legally carry concealed weapons — including college campuses — has been signed into law. Barring unforeseen developments, state college and university students and staff will be allowed to carry guns into classrooms, dorm rooms and other campus facilities as of June 1.

University System officials have said late amendments to bill made it more palatable, including the ability to ban guns from events where police are present and the need to provide proof of firearms training. The state Board of Regents is slated to take up changes to campus gun regulations it its May meeting.

Here’s a better idea: Challenge the law outright as it pertains to college and university campuses.

The framers of the 1972 Montana Constitution were quite clear. The Board of Regents shall “have full power, responsibility and authority to supervise, coordinate, manage and control the Montana university system,” according to the constitution.

There’s not much wiggle room there. And the courts should be asked to rule on this infringement of the regents’ authority. Why? Because it’s important — very important.

No one has demonstrated a need for students to carry guns on campus. And allowing them to do so is fraught with peril. The presence of guns invites accidents, an increased opportunity to commit suicide in a state with one of the highest suicide rates in the nation and a chance that an argument — particularly one fueled by alcohol — could end very badly.

Montana will join 10 other states that allow guns on state campuses, but will be the only one allowing students as young as 18 to carry them. And that sends a very bad message about our campuses. Many out-of-state high school students and their families will have second thoughts about enrolling in a Montana school when guns are allowed in classrooms and dorm rooms. And the system relies on the higher tuition paid by those students to subsidize the cost of education for in-state students.

Montana State University accommodates students’ firearms used for hunting. They are stored in a locker until students request them to use for planned outings. That’s sufficient.

There’s simply no need for students to have access to guns outside of that and the courts should be asked to rule on this new law.


Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Charles Rinker, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, either leave a comment on the page below or write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.