North Dakota Senate: Yes To Guns In Church, No To Guns In Schools


It was a mixed bag for proponents of gun rights in the North Dakota Senate today. Six bills dealing with gun issues were considered by the Senators today, with three passing and three failing.

You can watch the floor debate for all these bills here.

Here’s what passed:

HB1260 – Introduced by Rep. Karen Karls, this bill clarifies the process for those convicted of felonies having their gun rights restored. Right now petitioners must file their request with the district court in the county where they reside. This change would require that the petition be filed in the county where the offense occurred unless it occurred out of state in which case it can be filed where the petitioner lives. This bill passed by a 42-3 vote.

HB1241 – Introduced by Rep. Ben Koppelman, this bill clarifies restrictions on concealed carry at gaming sites. Current law disallows concealed carry at gaming sites or in any establishment retailing alcohol. The change disallows concealed carry at gaming halls, and makes it clear that concealed carry is allowed in restaurants with a separate bar establishment. It passed on a 39-6 vote.

HB1283 – Introduced by Rep. Kim Koppelman, this bill simply allows churches to decide whether or not they’d like to allow concealed carry on their property. Under current law concealed carry isn’t not allowed in any church. This law allows for churches to decide if they want to allow some to carry concealed. Law enforcement would have to be notified as to who is allowed to carry. The bill passed in a 28-17 vote.

Here’s what failed:

HB1215 – Introduced by Rep. Dwight Kiefert, this bill would have allowed for local school districts to decide to allow concealed carry on their property. Like HB1283, law enforcement would have to be notified as to who has permission to carry. It failed on a 18-27 vote.

HB1366 – Introduced by Rep. Rick Becker, this bill would removed the prohibition on concealed carry at public gatherings. It failed on a 9-36 vote.

HB1183 – Introduced by Rep. Roscoe Streyle, this bill would have prohibited the use of state resources to enforce any new federal gun control laws. It failed, with no debate, on a 7-38 vote.

Much of the debate was emotional, and not really grounded in fact. Case in point, here’s Senator Nicole Poolman arguing against HB1215 on the grounds that she, as a public school teacher, might be locked into a room with a student carrying a weapon who opens fire. You have to wonder, of course, what’s stopping students from bringing a gun into her classroom now? Nothing, really. All she’s done by opposing this legislation is ensure that there’s nobody at the school who is armed and capable of shooting back.

Plus, under the law, no school district would be forced to allow guns. And even if they allowed guns, they could assign permission to carry to specific people. Senator Poolman’s emotional plea for teacher safety just wasn’t grounded in fact. Certainly, schools with armed citizens in them would be safer than the “gun free zones” that are targeted now by shooters again and again.

There was some surprising debate. Senator Connie Triplett, for instance, stood up in favor of HB1283, though it seemed her intent was sort of a poke at the pro-life people. She alludes to the abortion debates, and then says she’s supporting this bill because she feels the separation of church and state should be vigorously defended.

She does have a point, though. With at least one legislator in the state the target of serious death threats, and with pro-abortion groups acknowledging that their supporters have become quite violent in their rhetoric, the idea of churches being protected is a good one.

What was really disappointing is that there was no floor debate at all on HB1183, which was perhaps the most important of all these bills. But I guess that’s what happens when Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem shows up in committee hearing and says “this bill just has to die.”