Taking a brief pause from his non-stop efforts to enrich himself at the Legislature by proposing laws to further skew tenant-landlord laws in the favor of property owners, Billings Senator Roger Webb is proposing a bill that would allow members of the Legislature to carry concealed weapons at the Montana Legislature.
SB 304, which will have its hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, would carve out an exemption allowing Montana legislators, unlike the public in general, to carry their guns at the Capitol and any other state building open to the public.
Given the militia leanings of some members of the Legislature like Jennifer Fielder and Theresa Manzella, it’s hard to imagine how such a provision would improve public safety. Given that legislators are certainly not any more vetted than other holders of concealed carry permits to remain stable in the face of crisis, it’s hard to understand how allowing them to attend contentious hearings armed would improve security at the Capitol. Perhaps it’s just me, but people who propose absurd bill after absurd bill have hardly demonstrated some kind of superior reasoning skill that would justify arming them.
Perhaps most importantly, it undercuts the conservative argument that unfettered concealed carry is a right as absolute as free speech. While I don’t share the conservative gundamentalist lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, it would seem to fly in the face of constitutional jurisprudence to argue that one class of citizens has greater access to a right than others. And perhaps that is Webb’s intent: to craft a clearly unequal, unconstitutional law that would, when struck down, open the door to everyone who wants to wandering the Capitol armed.
And it’s perhaps easiest to see why legislators shouldn’t be armed when we examine the record of its proponent. Senator Webb not only pled guilty to poaching charges in 2016, he once heroically shot and killed a black lab who was running away from him, using a .357 magnum pistol, for which he was sentenced for animal cruelty and disorderly conduct.
And maybe that’s good enough reason to reject this insane bill to bring more guns to the Capitol. Can’t wait for the hearing.