Those under the age of 21 are no longer able to buy semi-automatic assault rifles in the state of Washington as of last week. The law is part of a gun control measure approved by voters in that state last November. Included in the initiative were tougher background checks for all those buying assault rifles and mandated safer storage of all firearms.

Washington joins other states that have passed tougher gun laws. The moves are symptomatic of voter frustration with the seeming inability of Congress to move on the issue. All lawmakers on both the state and national levels should take heed. In the wake of numerous mass killings in recent years – most involving assault-style guns – a clear majority of all Americans want to see some action.

It’s highly unlikely the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature will follow this trend. In fact there probably will be efforts to loosen restrictions on gun rights. Expect another proposal to permit students, staff and faculty to carry firearms on state college and university campuses. Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock is certain to veto such bill if it were to pass. But once a Republican takes the statehouse – and one will eventually – we could actually see guns on campuses.

That’s not what Montanans want.

All Montana lawmakers need to start thinking about smarter laws on background checks and who can legally own guns.

And hunters need to realize there are no efforts to place limits on sporting arms nor will there be. Hunting is a great Montana tradition that will not be undercut by efforts at commonsense gun laws.

Nearly 60 percent of Washingtonians voted to pass the gun initiative in that state. And it’s just a matter of time before voters in many other states will demand something similar.

Mandated background checks and restrictions on assault rifle purchases by those not old enough to buy a beer make sense.

Editorial Board

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

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