Matt Evans: A Good Week For Gun Rights In The North Dakota House

This week, 3 different bills that I’d characterize as “pro gun owner” passed the North Dakota House of Representatives.  Here’s my run down.

HB1219 seems like a pretty low impact bill.  It makes some minor clarifications about how violent felons may or may not have their gun rights restored, and clarifies some timelines and procedures for the appeals process if the state makes a determination that an individual is a prohibited person.

However, right at the end of HB1219 some language is stricken that relates to the transfer of possession of what we call “NFA” items.  NFA means “National Firearms Act”.  NFA items are anything specifically and specially regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934.   This usually means sound suppressors, fully-automatic weapons, and short-barreled rifles.  All of these items are legal for civilians to own in the US if they do the appropriate federal paperwork.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]In effect, this means that the dubious nature of the previous “public gathering” language has been clarified.  Publicly owned parks, concerts, political functions, and other specific things that were disallowed in the old law are now allowed.[/mks_pullquote]

HB1219 repeals existing state law that says any federal firearms license holder must submit a copy of their license transfer paperwork to the local sheriff anytime they receive NFA items.

The repeal of this language indicates that receiving NFA items will be less hassle for gun owners, and less paperwork for local law enforcement.  To transfer an NFA item you must pay the ATF a $200 transfer tax and wait for an approval that typically takes 6-9 months.

The federal transfer approval process for NFA items is thorough enough that North Dakota doesn’t need any state laws in this area.  HB1219 passed the ND house and is now on to the senate.

HB1241 has a number of pro-gun provisions, and is my favorite gun rights bill this session.

It explicitly allows hunting with suppressed, short barreled rifles in calibers and configurations that would otherwise be allowed for hunting.  It also makes a slight change to the law that says that certain types of tasers cannot be owned by prohibited persons.  Most importantly, it clarifies and slightly expands concealed carry in North Dakota.

Changes in HB1241 to concealed carry law are as follows.

First, it is now lawful to carry a concealed weapon in businesses that sell alcohol – but do not serve it.

The problematic “public gathering” language in the old law has been clarified.  Public gatherings are now specifically defined as athletic or sporting events, schools, churches, and any publicly owned or operated buildings.

In effect, this means that the dubious nature of the previous “public gathering” language has been clarified.  Publicly owned parks, concerts, political functions, and other specific things that were disallowed in the old law are now allowed.

This language is by no means perfect, but it is a positive step.

The ban on an unlicensed person carrying a loaded gun in their vehicle now covers snowmobiles.  Not really a pro-gun owner development, but also not a concern if you have a carry permit.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]North Dakota also has a quirky “open carry” law on the books which says you can open carry a gun unloaded during daylight hours.  That law is clarified by changes in HB1241, and while ND still doesn’t really have open carry, the law that we do have is less ambiguous with the new wording.  [/mks_pullquote]

North Dakota also has a quirky “open carry” law on the books which says you can open carry a gun unloaded during daylight hours.  That law is clarified by changes in HB1241, and while ND still doesn’t really have open carry, the law that we do have is less ambiguous with the new wording.

HB1241 also makes the same modification to NFA transfer law as HB1219 does.  However, it goes one step further and says that the chief law enforcement officer of any pertinent state jurisdiction MUST sign federal NFA transfer paperwork within 30 days if doing so would not be prohibited by law.  This change is important because it makes possession of NFA items in North Dakota a “shall issue” sort of process instead of a “at the local law enforcement’s discretion” sort of process.

HB1241 passed the ND House.

HB1450 makes more changes regarding where concealed weapons may be carried.  HB1450 and HB1241 are very similar, but there are some interesting differences.  In HB1450, the public gathering language is changed to public gathering place, and prohibited activities are generally retired and prohibited locations have been substituted.  An interesting omission is that HB1450 still mentions musical concerts as a place where carry is prohibited; HB1241 removed that language.  1450 also clarifies that the sporting events clause only applies to events where admission tickets are required.

Critically, HB1450 specifically exempts public restrooms and public rest stops from the “public buildings” clause; with HB1450 it will be legal to carry a concealed weapon in a public rest stop on the interstate, despite the broad prohibition on carry inside of public buildings.

Finally, HB1450 clarifies that Class1 and Class2 carry permits are both equally valid while in North Dakota.  The class distinction exists so that North Dakota can have a permit that has better recognition in other states, but requires more training and testing to acquire.

HB1450 passed the ND house.

Because HB1241 and HB1450 both passed, and both make changes to the same areas of existing law, I’m curious about what the final language will look like.  However, this trio of bills makes a variety of improvements for North Dakota gun owners.

It was a good week.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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