Montana’s hate and gun laws have significant gaps that allow people convicted of violent hate crimes to keep and access guns, including assault weapons, under state law, though hate crime convictions in Montana generally trigger federal firearm restrictions.
Access to Guns for People Convicted of Hate Crimes in Montana
|Violence with Severe Bodily Injury||Violence with Bodily Injury||Other Crimes Involving Intentional Use of Force||Threats with Deadly Weapons|
Other Credible Threats to Physical Safety
|Federal Law||Very limited or no access||Very limited or no access||Very limited or no access||Very limited or no access|
Very limited or no access
|State Law||Significant access||Significant access||Significant access||Significant access|
Montana law makes it a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to maliciously intimidate, harass, or injure a person, or destroy their property, because of the victim’s race, creed, religion, color, national origin, or involvement in civil rights or human rights activity.1 Montana also generally authorizes judges to impose extended prison sentences when it is proven a person committed any other crime on this basis.2 (Ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability are not protected categories in Montana).
Federal law generally prohibits people from accessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony punishable by over one year in prison, or a state law misdemeanor punishable by more than two years.3 Because hate crimes in Montana are generally punishable by up to five or ten years in prison, people convicted of hate crimes in Montana are generally prohibited from accessing firearms under federal law.
However, under state law, Montana only prohibits firearm access by people who received an extended prison sentence for using a dangerous weapon in commission of certain felonies.4 On its face, this law does 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 are not prohibited from accessing guns under Montana law.5
As a result, people convicted of violent hate crimes generally remain eligible to access firearms under state law in Montana, including those sentenced to extended felony prison terms for hate crimes involving intentional infliction of serious bodily injury, injury with a weapon, intimidation, and credible threats of violence.6 Importantly, though, such individuals are generally subject to federal firearm restrictions.
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- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-221 (“Malicious intimidation or harassment relating to civil or human rights”).
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-222.
- 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1); 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20)(B).
- Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-313(1).
- 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”). The state also allows otherwise ineligible people to purchase and possess firearms if they obtain a permit from their local court Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-313(3).
- E.g., Mont. Code Ann. §§ 45-5-221 (“Malicious intimidation or harassment relating to civil or human rights”); 45-5-202 (“Aggravated assault”); 45-5-213 (“Assault with weapon”); 45-5-201 (“Assault”); 45-5-203 (“Intimidation”).