New Montana law focused on suicide prevention

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Posted at 9:38 AM, Oct 05, 2023

HELENA — On Sunday, Senate Bill 423, the Good Samaritan Firearm Liability Protection Bill entered into law.

“It provides liability protection for a good samaritan that will hold on to their buddies' firearms temporally while they get through this rough time,” said Montana Senator Mary Ann Dunwell, D-Helena.

The new law protects Montanans from liability if they temporarily take care of another person’s firearms. They are protected if they happen to return the firearm too early after the end of a written or oral agreement.

This immunity does not apply if connected to a crime.

This bill is focused on suicide prevention.

“I served in the Marine Corps, and I had veteran friends, marine buddies that continued to turn to suicide,” Montana Senator Ken Bogner, R-Miles City, said.

In 2021, 63% of deaths by suicide in Montana involved a firearm.

“Firearms are very accessible. It’s part of our heritage. Hunting is part of our heritage,” said Dunwell.

Firearm community members, veterans organizations, and mental health and suicide prevention advocates worked with senators Bogner and Dunwell to create the bill.

The bill passed with bipartisan support in an almost unanimous vote.

“Bills that address firearms very rarely get such huge bi-partisan support,” Bogner said, “So, to get that many different perspectives felt really good to get this passed the way it did and people feeling this is a big issue.”

The work was a collaborative effort with Safer Communities Montana.

SCM works to promote the safe storage of medication and firearms to prevent suicide.

Since the end of the legislative session Bogner, Dunwell, SCM, firearm retailers, Everytown for Gun Safety, and other stakeholders formed a workgroup to give community members options to store firearms outside of their homes safely.

If you or anyone you know is in crisis, you can call 988 24/7 to be connected to someone who can help.