Beginning February 2021, Montana no longer requires a permit to carry a concealed weapon in public. Now, the state allows anyone who can legally possess a firearm to carry carry one in public, without a background check. 1 The state still issues concealed carry licenses for people who want them for reciprocity or background check reasons.
Montana is a “shall issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement must issue a concealed weapons license if the applicant meets certain qualifications.
Montana requires a county sheriff to issue a permit to carry a concealed weapon, within 60 days of receiving an application, to any applicant who:
- Is a United States citizen or, as of 2017, a lawful permanent resident;
- Is 18 years of age or older;
- Holds a valid Montana driver’s license or other form of picture identification issued by the state; and
- Has been a resident of the state for at least six months.2
A license may be denied to a person who:
- Is ineligible under Montana or federal law to possess or receive a firearm;
- Has been charged with and is awaiting judgment in any state or federal court, for a crime punishable by one or more years of incarceration;
- Has been convicted in any state or federal court of a crime punishable by more than one year of incarceration;
- Has been convicted of carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence of an intoxicating substance, or carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited place, within the last five years and has not been pardoned;
- Is the subject of an arrest warrant issued in any state or by the federal government;
- Has been adjudicated in any state or federal court to be an unlawful user of an intoxicating substance and is under a court order of incarceration, probation, suspended or deferred sentence, treatment, education, or other condition of release or state supervision;
- Has been adjudicated in any state or federal court to be mentally ill, “defective,” or disabled, and remains subject to a disposition order;
- Has been dishonorably discharged from the United States armed forces; or
- Has been convicted in any state or federal court of a crime that includes as an element an act, attempted act, or threat of:
- Intentional homicide;
- Serious bodily injury;
- Unlawful restraint;
- Sexual abuse; or
- Non-consensual sexual intercourse or contact.3
The sheriff may deny a permit if he or she has reasonable cause to believe that the applicant’s mental state poses a threat to the peace and good order of the community to the extent that the applicant should not be allowed to carry a concealed weapon.4
However, a person who has been denied a permit for any reason – other than conviction for a crime involving intentional homicide, serious bodily harm, unlawful restraint, sexual abuse, or non-consensual sexual intercourse or contact – and who has had their rights restored pursuant to Article II, section 28 of the Montana Constitution, is entitled to issuance of a concealed weapons permit if otherwise eligible.5
Before 2021, Montana generally prohibited a person from carrying a concealed weapon without a license.8 Montana defines a “concealed weapon” as any weapon wholly or partially covered by the clothing or wearing apparel of the person carrying or bearing the weapon.9
Firearm Safety Training
Montana does not require firearm safety training as a prerequisite to obtaining a concealed weapons permit; however every successful applicant must demonstrate “familiarity with a firearm” by means of one of the following:
- Completion of a hunter education or safety course approved or conducted by the department of fish, wildlife, and parks or a similar agency of another state;
- Completion of a firearms safety or training course approved or conducted by the department of fish, wildlife, and parks, a similar agency of another state, a national firearms association, a law enforcement agency, an institution of higher education, or an organization that uses instructors certified by a national firearms association;
- Completion of a law enforcement firearms safety or training course offered to or required of public or private law enforcement personnel and conducted or approved by a law enforcement agency;
- Possession of a license from another state to carry a firearm, concealed or otherwise, granted by that state upon completion of a course described above;
- Evidence that the applicant, during military service, was found to be qualified to operate firearms, including handguns; or
- Passage of a physical test in which the applicant demonstrates his or her familiarity with a firearm.10
Duration & Renewal
A permit to carry a concealed weapon is valid for four years.11 A permit may be renewed for an additional four-year period, upon payment of a $25 fee, within 90 days before the expiration of the permit.12 Renewal applicants are required to complete a form that includes, at a minimum, the applicant’s name, address, physical description, signature, driver’s license number, state identification card number, or tribal identification number and photograph.13 The sheriff may deny the renewal of a permit if circumstances arise that would require the sheriff to refuse to grant the permittee an original license.14
Disclosure or Use of Information
The county sheriff must keep a copy of each application for a permit to carry a concealed weapon for at least four years.15 In addition, within seven days of the sheriff’s receipt of the application, a copy must be mailed to the chief of police if the applicant resides in a city or town with a police force.16 When a permit is issued, the sheriff must keep a copy and send a copy to the Montana Department of Justice, which shall keep a central repository record of all permits.17 All of the information on the application is confidential, however, and Montana law requires the sheriff to treat the confidential information on the application as confidential criminal justice information.18
A concealed weapon permit from another state is valid in Montana if:
- The permittee has the permit in her or his immediate possession;
- The permittee is in possession of official photo identification; and
- The state that issued the permit requires a criminal records background check of permit applicants prior to issuance of a permit.19
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- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-316, as amended by 2021 MT HB 102.
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-321.
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-321(2).
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-321(6).
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(3).
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(4). Additional application and background check requirements, as well as permit suspension or disqualification information, are detailed under Montana Code Ann. §§ 45-8-322 through 45-8-324.
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-316. The state does not prohibit the carrying of a concealed weapon without a license while the possessor is: 1) outside the official boundaries of a city or town or the confines of a logging, lumbering, mining or railroad camp; 2) lawfully engaged in hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, hiking, backpacking, farming, ranching, or other outdoor activity in which weapons are often carried for recreation or protection; or 3) At his or her home, on his or her own premises, or at his or her place of business. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-317(1)(i) and (j).
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-315.
- Mont. Code Ann. §45-8-321.
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-316.
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(3).
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-323.
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(2).
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(3).
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(7).
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-329.
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-329(2).