constitution

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed his first two bills of the legislative session on Thursday, one that would have allowed guns in post offices and another that would have eliminated the need for concealed weapons permits.

Both gun bills passed by wide margins in the Republican-dominated Legislature, and are among several proposals to loosen gun restrictions in Montana this legislative session.

The bill by Rep. Randy Brodehl, R-Kalispell, would have allowed anybody to carry a weapon into post offices across the state. The Democratic governor said in his veto letter that the measure violates constitutional provisions that give Congress the right to make rules regarding federal property.

Bullock also noted that regulations prohibiting the possession of firearms on post office property have been challenged and upheld in court. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled in 2015 that the U.S. Postal Service’s ban on firearms is constitutional.

“We would not propose to tell the United States Air Force how to run Malmstrom Air Force Base, or for that matter a private store owner who posts a “No firearms allowed” in their storefront, and the same logic applies here,” Bullock wrote in the veto letter.

The second bill is by Rep. Bill Harris, R-Winnett. The measure would have nullified the state’s concealed weapon permits, which require adult residents to apply with their sheriff’s office and complete a gun safety course.

Instead, Harris’ bill said anyone eligible to carry a handgun would be able to conceal it.

Bullock said that he not only vetoed the same measure by Harris in 2015, but an identical bill in 2013. It effectively allows people to decide for themselves whether they are eligible to carry a concealed weapon, logic that, by extension, could also let drivers and pilots determine whether they could drive or fly without licenses, Bullock wrote.

“While I will fiercely defend the Second Amendment rights of our citizens, I cannot support an absurd concept that threatens the safety of our communities by not providing for the basic fundamentals of gun safety or mental health screening,” Bullock wrote in his message.

Other gun bills that have already passed the House include another proposal by Brodehl to allow legislators to carry concealed weapons in the Montana Capitol and other state property, and one by Rep. Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, that would allow patrons to carry guns in restaurants.

“It’s disappointing that following a campaign in which Gov. Bullock ran on his support for the Second Amendment that he would turn his back on Montanans so quickly by taking his veto stamp to these bills that protect our fundamental rights,” House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, said in a statement.