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Missoula council approves expanded gun ordinance

Posted at 8:33 AM, Oct 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-16 10:34:55-04

MISSOULA – The Missoula City Council passed new rules late Monday night that will prohibit people from carrying guns in more public places.

The council also declared an emergency so the rules will be in effect at polling places for Election Day.

The amendment bans weapons at public buildings or other locations of “public assembly”, both concealed carry and open carry, including political gatherings and at the polls.

The ban also covers the city council chambers, public museums, libraries and certain parks under the city’s jurisdiction.

The city is aiming for the tougher controls under a provision allowing cities to take steps for “public safety purposes”.

Citizens on both sides of the issues spoke out in a long public comment process.

“I urge you to pass this amendment, to make all the citizens of Missoula safe as we go to the polls to vote. As we enjoy our public parks, and as we testify before you here,” said Jean Larson with the group Moms Demand Action.

“I have no desire to use my weapon to protect someone else, just myself. It’s not my responsibility, it’s theirs. Nor, do I want to be a complement to local law enforcement and the sheriff employees. I’ve never drawn my gun on a person and I pray I never will..” added Mike Stramer who supports the concealed and open carry efforts.

The gun ban will further expand Missoula’s efforts to exact more restrictive rules inside the city limits.

Meanwhile, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is asking a Missoula District Court judge to reconsider his ruling upholding Missoula’s gun show ordinance.

Judge Dusty Deschamps issued a summary judgment in favor of the City of Missoula last week, saying the city had the right to enact rules requiring background checks for guns that were sold at shows taking place in the city.

That ordinance had been approved two years ago this fall. But an AG’s opinion requested by a legislator last year said Montana’s Constitution didn’t give that kind of authority to cities and towns.

City leaders filed suit to force the question earlier this year. Now, the State is asking Deschamps to reconsider the ruling, saying the judge acted before Monday’s deadline for the submission of arguments in the case.

If Judge Deschamps declines the order, the attorney general would then be forced to appeal the case to the Montana Supreme Court.

-Dennis Bragg contributed to this report.