Montana Department of Justice
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Frequently Asked Firearms Questions in Montana

Note:  These FAQs are offered by the Attorney General as a public service to provide answers to basic firearms questions based on Montana law.  But firearms are often also subject to the laws of other jurisdictions, including federal laws and even, in some instances, the laws of other states.  These FAQs do not address or account for those laws.  Moreover, the Office of the Attorney General cannot provide individual legal advice or representation on gun issues.  While we hope these FAQs can help address certain basic, reoccurring firearms questions, the Office of the Attorney General strongly recommends that all individuals consult with their own attorneys.

Where do I apply for a Montana Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP)?

All CWP applications are received and processed by the local county sheriffs.  You should apply for a CWP with the sheriff’s office in the county of your residence.

How long is my permit good for?

You must be a US citizen and a resident of Montana for at least six months.  You must be 18 years of age or older and you must have a valid Montana driver’s license or state-issued ID card, which has a picture of the person identified.  You must also demonstrate familiarity and proficiency with a firearm. Permits issued by the State of Montana are valid for 4 years from the date of issuance.

What training do I need for a CWP?

An applicant for a CWP must “demonstrate familiarity with a firearm” by completion of a hunter education or safety course, a firearms safety or training course, or a law enforcement firearms safety or training course.  Military training or other training may also qualify – please contact your local county sheriff for more details.

What if the sheriff denies my request for a CWP?

Montana law authorizes an appeal to the district court and then to the Montana Supreme Court if the sheriff denies, revokes, or refuses to renew a CWP.  The Montana Attorney General’s office cannot provide legal advice or representation to individuals who have been denied a CWP.

Can I get a non-resident CWP in Montana?


What happens if I move to a different county in Montana?

Your CWP is still valid, but you must notify the sheriffs of both the old and the new counties of your change in residence within 10 days of your move.  If your residence change is to or from a city or town with a police force, you must also notify the chief of police in each of those cities or towns.

Can I carry a firearm in my vehicle even if I don’t have a CWP?

Yes. Montana law does not regulate how firearms are carried in a vehicle.  If you are traveling interstate please contact the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the state authorities in the other states you will be traveling in regarding any restrictions on interstate transport of weapons.

Are there places or circumstances when I cannot carry a weapon even if I have a CWP?

Yes.  It is illegal to carry a concealed weapon while under the influence of an intoxicating substance.  It is also illegal to carry a concealed weapon in state or government offices or buildings; schools; banks, credit unions, or savings and loan institutions; and a room in which alcoholic beverages are sold, dispensed, and consumed under a license issued under title 16 for the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.  Montana law also forbids carrying firearms on a train.  Montana law also allows local governments to regulate the carrying of both concealed and unconcealed weapons in certain areas, including public assemblies, public buildings, parks, and schools.  Please check your local regulations.

What about university campuses?

Please check with the particular institution for firearms policies.

Does Montana have “reciprocity” with other states?

No. Montana law does not provide for “reciprocity” with other states, but Montana does recognize many other states’ permits, and some other states recognize Montana’s permit.  The states whose permit Montana recognizes are listed on this website.  To determine if your Montana CWP is recognized by another specific state, you must contact that state for information.  And remember:  the laws of the state you are in govern concealed carry, even if your basis for carrying concealed is an out-of-state permit.  So know the laws of each state you are carrying in.

Do I need a CWP to carry a weapon concealed at my own home or business?

Generally no, unless some other law prevents carrying at that location.

Do I need a CWP to carry a weapon while hiking or hunting?

No.  You may carry a concealed weapon without a CWP while lawfully engaged in hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, hiking, backpacking, farming, ranching, or other outdoor activity in which weapons are often carried for recreation or protection.

Do I need a CWP to carry a concealed weapon outside of town?

Generally no.  You may carry a concealed weapon without a permit if you are outside the official boundaries of a city or town or the confines of a logging, lumbering, mining or railroad camp.

How do the concealed weapons laws affect the carrying of knives?

It is illegal to conceal a knife with a blade that is 4 inches or longer.  A CWP authorizes a person to carry a knife with a blade that is 4 inches or longer in a concealed manner.

I don’t have a CWP. Can I still carry a firearm as long as it is not concealed?

Generally yes, but there are various state and local laws prohibiting carrying of a firearm—concealed or unconcealed—in certain places or under certain circumstances.  Consult your attorney.

I am a resident of another state. Can I purchase a firearm from a dealer in Montana?

Montana law does not prohibit sales of firearms to out-of-state residents, but federal laws and the laws of your resident state might.  Consult your attorney.

Are there any laws governing a private sale of firearms in Montana?

Montana law does not regulate the private sales of firearms, but federal law does.  Consult your attorney.

Can the owner or proprietor of a residence or business prohibit carrying of a weapon if I have a CWP?

Yes, the owner or proprietor of a property may prohibit all weapons on that property.

Can I carry a gun in my purse or backpack?

If you have a CWP you may carry a gun in a purse or backpack.  If you do not have a CWP it could be considered a violation of the law for you to conceal a gun in a purse or backpack, since the law defines a concealed weapon as one that is “wholly or partially covered by the clothing or wearing apparel of the person carrying or bearing the weapon.”  Check with your local county sheriff or county attorney for more information.

I’m vacationing in Montana. Can I bring a weapon into your State?

Yes.  You may legally possess a firearm in Montana as long as you are in compliance with all Montana and federal firearms laws.

What about the national parks?

The law governing possession of firearms inside a national park changed in 2010. Federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in this park. This includes concealed weapons if the visitor has a valid permit. Federal law still prohibits firearms in certain park facilities and buildings.

What about the Indian reservations?

Montana has seven Indian reservations, some of which have their own laws regarding firearms.  Please contact the individual tribal governments for information on firearms if you will be visiting or traveling through the Indian reservations.

I just moved to Montana. Can I get a concealed weapon permit issued by the state of Montana?

You have to be a resident of Montana for six months before applying for a CWP.

Can I get a CWP if I have been convicted of a felony in Montana?

If you have completed your sentence so that your rights are restored pursuant to article II, section 28 of the Montana Constitution, and there are no other legal impediments to receiving a CWP, you may be eligible to apply for and receive a CWP unless (1) the crime included as an element of the offense an act, attempted, act, or threat of intentional homicide, serious bodily harm, unlawful restraint, sexual abuse, or sexual intercourse or contact without consent, or (2) you are under lifetime supervision for having received an enhanced sentence for using a weapon in the commission of the underlying offense.  The CWP may be denied, however, if a background check reveals that you are ineligible under state or federal law to own, possess, or receive a firearm.  Other circumstances may also affect your eligibility.  Please consult with your attorney regarding your specific legal rights.  The Office of the Attorney General cannot provide individual legal advice or representation.

What if the conviction is from another state or is a federal conviction?

You are probably not eligible for a CWP if the conviction was for a crime punishable by more than 1 year of incarceration or if the crime included as an element of the offense an act, attempted, act, or threat of intentional homicide, serious bodily harm, unlawful restraint, sexual abuse, or sexual intercourse or contact without consent.  Even if your sentence has been completed, you may not be eligible to possess a firearm under federal law.  Please consult with your attorney regarding your specific legal rights.  The Office of the Attorney General cannot provide individual legal advice or representation.

What if my conviction was a misdemeanor?

You are ineligible for a CWP if the misdemeanor conviction was for a violation of Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-327 (carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence) or Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-328 (carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited place.  Also, if the misdemeanor crime included as an element of the offense an act, attempted, act, or threat of intentional homicide, serious bodily harm, unlawful restraint, sexual abuse, or sexual intercourse or contact without consent, then you are also ineligible for a Montana CWP.  Please consult with your attorney regarding your specific legal rights.  The Office of the Attorney General cannot provide individual legal advice or representation.


Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.


Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.


Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.


Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.


Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.


Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.


Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and local and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.


Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department of Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.


Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.


Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.


Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.


Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.


Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.


Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about the Consumer Protection Act. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.


Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.


Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.


Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.


Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.


Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.


Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.


Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.