New Montana law focused on suicide prevention

Posted at 9:50 AM, Oct 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-05 12:00:42-04

HELENA — On Sunday, Senate Bill 423 - the Good Samaritan Firearm Liability Protection Bill - became law in Montana.

“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.

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.

Senate Bill 423

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 said.

In 2021, 63% of suicides in Montana were by 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 state senators Ken Bogner and Mary Ann 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, which promotes 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 working group 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 at any time (24/7) to be connected to someone who can help.