This week, Lawmakers return to Helena for the official day of the 2023 session of the Montana state legislature. This year, lawmakers will have the opportunity to pass common sense gun safety legislation. The past year showed how important firearm violence prevention is in Montana as the state witnessed a tragic number of domestic violence cases, intimate partner homicides cases, and troubling rates of suicides. In Montana, firearm deaths have skyrocketed by 39% from 2018 to 2021 while gun sales have also climbed – an estimated 81,100 guns were sold from January through July 2022, the eighth highest gun sale rate of gun sales in the country.
In past years, instead of passing gun safety measures to prevent gun violence, lawmakers have proposed and passed measures to weaken gun laws such as HB 258, a bill that prohibits Montana state and local law enforcement from assisting in the enforcement of any new federal public safety laws. As we expect debate on bills that seek to weaken gun laws and expand the gun lobby’s guns everywhere agenda, Moms Demand Action volunteers will be paying close attention and present at the statehouse as gun violence continues to devastate communities in light of inaction by lawmakers.
This year, lawmakers should learn from past mistakes and protect all Montanans from gun violence, especially children. They should be engaging in a productive conversation around threat assessment programs to help keep guns out of schools. These policies help schools identify students who are at risk of committing violence and resolve these incidents by getting the students the help they need. Secure storage laws will also help prevent gun violence on public grounds, research shows that secure firearm storage plays a vital role in reducing unintentional shootings and gun suicide, all which tend to be more common among minors. In addition, Montana’s worrying suicide rate invites a deeper debate around suicide prevention advocacy and resources. Promoting further funding for the new 988 suicide hotline, will ensure the service’s longevity long-term, and assistance to those in need.
More Information on Gun Violence in Montana:
- Montana has the ninth highest gun-related death rate in the United States. On an average year, there are an estimated 214 gun-related deaths, with 84 percent being reported as suicides.
- A gun suicide death occurs every 49 hours, the second highest rate of firearm suicide in the country, including the third highest among youths. Montana also has the highest rate of suicide amongLatinos in the country and the third highest among Native Americans.
- Gun violence costs Montana $3.0 billion each year, of which $30.9 million is paid by taxpayers.
More information about gun violence in Montana is available here.
If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Montana Moms Demand Action about advocacy and gun violence prevention in the state, please reach out to [email protected].