The Montana Legislature advanced a bill that will give public school students the same rights to self-defense that Montana citizens enjoy outside of schools.
HB 450, sponsored by state Rep. Jedediah Hinkle, R-District 67, was passed in the House by a margin of 70-30, said local NBC Montana.
Republicans dominate the Montana State House, 68 seats to 32 seats for Democrats.
“It’s an inherent right that we all have to defend ourselves. And that should not be stripped away just because a student is in school versus outside of the school,” Hinkle told Fox News Digital.
In fact, Montana Code 45-3-102 justifies the use of force “if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily harm to the person or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
NBC News Montana also reports that the bill would allow for witnesses to step in and restrain individuals who are fighting.
Proponents of the bill say it gives school administrators the proper authority to investigate school fights, which are not uncommon.
“I know why administrators, and no offense to any administrators in the room, why they bail on the investigation,” said Rep. Lee Deming, R-District 55. “It’s just too hard. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t investigate to the best of our ability. And I think that’s what this bill does, it encourages the administration to find out what in the world happened.”
One parent, who said that her son is relentlessly bullied at school, supports the bill because it means her child can fight back against bullies.
“He [my son] tries to defend himself [against bullies], but he gets in trouble because he defends himself,” Stacy Roope, a Helena resident told Fox News. “He’s not afraid of them. I mean, he’s willing to duke it out with them. But, of course, they [the school district] don’t like it when they, you know, hit back.”
She said five students have no contact orders with her son and that he has been suspended twice in a year and has had supervised lunches because he has fought back against bullies.
Other parents shared similar stories with Fox News.
Currently, Montana’s public schools prohibit all fighting, no matter who instigates the fight, meaning that anyone involved in a fight faces the same level of discipline even if they’re simply defending themselves from a student trying to take their proverbial “lunch money.”
A similar bill passed the Montana Senate at the end of March and is now undergoing the process of reconciliation between the two legislative chambers.