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.
- A felony for which the person is currently required to register for the sexual or violent offender registry.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.