HELENA – A bill that would have allowed law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of suicidal individuals was tabled in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
The committee voted 11-8 along party lines to table the bill.
House Bill 718 would have established a “Red Flag Law” in the state that allowed officers to obtain an extreme risk order of protection, through the courts, if they believed an individual was at an extreme risk to themselves or others.
Police would then be able to temporarily seize the firearms of that individual.
At a later rally at the Capitol, sponsor of the bill Rep. Robert Farris-Olsen (D-Helena) said firearm-related suicides need to be addressed.
“The next steps are really to work with constituents and there were even a few Republicans who expressed interest in a finding a solution and to protect these individuals,” said Farris-Olsen.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) supported the legislation.
“We hold the dubious distinction in Montana being number one in the nation in regards to completed suicides,” said Zoe Barnard, administrator of Addictive & Mental Disorders Division. “A bill that looks like this one did has successfully reduced suicide by firearm in both Indiana and Connecticut.”
According to the DPHHS, Montana consistently has one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation.
The majority of suicides in the state involved firearms.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts please reach out for help. The Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or text “MT” to 741 741.
-John Riley reporting for MTN News