Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.
Montana provides that, subject to certain limited exceptions, no person shall possess a firearm if he or she has been convicted of:
- A felony for which he or she received an additional sentence under Montana Code Ann. § 46-18-221 (which imposes an additional sentence for offenses committed with a dangerous weapon); or
- An offense of another state or federal law which is equivalent to a Montana offense which would subject the person to an additional sentence under section 46-18-221.1
On its face, however, these firearm restrictions do not apply to felonies where the use of a weapon is an element of the offense, meaning paradoxically, that people convicted of using firearms in crimes like assault with a deadly weapon may not be prohibited from accessing guns under Montana law.2
Montana law also allows otherwise ineligible people to purchase and possess firearms after a felony conviction if they receive a permit from their local court, which may be granted by the court upon a showing of good cause for possession of each firearm sought to be purchased and possessed.3
Possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner or person in a youth detention facility is also unlawful in Montana.4 A state administrative regulation prohibits probationers and parolees from owning, possessing or being in control of any firearm.5
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- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-313.
- See Mont. Code Ann. § 46-18-221(1) (stating that a person is subject to the sentencing enhancement for offenses committed with a dangerous weapon “other than an offense in which the use of a weapon is an element of the offense”); Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-213 (“Assault with weapon”).
- Mont Code Ann. §§ 45-8-313(3), 45-8-314.
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-318.
- Mont. Admin. R. 20.7.1101.