Representative Seth Berglee (R) HD 58 reacted on Wednesday after the Montana Board of Regents voted unanimously to seek judicial review over HB 102, the bill he sponsored that allows the carrying of firearms on Montana campuses.

Berglee’s first thought was on the authority of the Montana Constitution versus the U.S. Constitution.

“I understand the Board of Regents has overall authority to essentially manage, run control, etc, the university system, but I think if you just take a step back and think about what that means in terms of the state constitution and the Federal Constitution,” said Berglee. “So we have to try and establish where they fall in the pecking order, so to speak.”

Berglee noted that the vote on Wednesday was along very narrow grounds.

“The votes that they took today had nothing really to do with policy,” he said. “If you listen to it, they didn't touch on really any of the concerns or public comment that was brought in regards to the safety, the reasonable policy, how it would affect the turnout the fears concern. Today was specifically about their power as the Board of Regents and regards to the legislature's authority to pass a law.”

Burglee addressed one of the arguments against allowing firearms on campus by stating that a majority of students live off-campus, and there have been very few problems with firearms.

“It seems to me that just from a logical standpoint, if the majority of our college students didn't live on campus and already have access to alcohol and parties and everything else, then where are the problems?” he asked. “Where's the massive spike in suicides? Where are all the kids getting angry shooting people? They don't exist. So to me, I don't know that that is really an argument that holds water.”

Burglee then closed by reiterating his assertion of the authority that the U.S. Constitution holds over the Board of Regents.

“I don't believe that they have the authority to tell somebody if you walk on our grounds, even though the rest of the state has to abide by the Constitution and the other branches of government have to abide by the Constitution, in regards to the second amendment specifically, we have the ability to deny that right or restrict that, right, essentially, absolutely,” he said. “And to me, that's a very, very strong claim in terms of power based on authority granted through the Montana Constitution.”

Burglee said in any court action that may occur that Attorney General Austin Knudsen would represent the state legislature against the Board of Regents.

 

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