The column below was submitted by Senator Kelly Armstrong (R-Dickinson) and Rep. Todd Porter (R-Mandan)
This week, the legislature passed the “constitutional carry” bill that has since been signed into law by Gov. Burgum. This law allows citizens to carry a concealed weapon if they meet the eligibility requirements for a Class 2 concealed weapons’ license and have possessed a valid North Dakota driver’s license or ID card for at least one year. It will go into effect on August 1st of this year.
Our state constitution reinforces the broad right of our citizens to “keep and bear arms” as guaranteed by our federal constitution. With the constitutional carry law in place, any North Dakota citizen that is legally allowed to carry a gun will no longer have to prove to the government that they can do so.
The decision to carry a gun is a constitutional right guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment. But with that right comes responsibility. We trust that law abiding North Dakota citizens are capable of knowing the laws, understanding that they meet the qualifications to carry, and that they are informed about gun safety. As Governor Burgum stated, “Gun ownership is both a right and a responsibility. That responsibility begins with individuals and families.”
This law does not significantly decrease safety requirements for carrying a concealed weapon, as some have suggested. Under current law, someone must only pass a simple open-book test and meet the conditions of eligibility in order to obtain a Class 2 license; there are no required safety classes or shooting proficiency tests.
This law also introduces a duty for citizens to inform police officers if they are carrying a concealed weapon during traffic stops and other interactions. This is a positive change, introduced at the behest of law enforcement, to promote public safety and allow our law enforcement officers to do their job.
The main purpose of the permitting process is ensuring reciprocity with other states for those carrying a concealed weapon, and North Dakota residents will still be able to do so. The constitutional carry law only applies within the state of North Dakota. A Class 2 concealed carry permit has reciprocity with 17 other states and a Class 1 permit has reciprocity with 39 other states.
Anyone wishing to carry a concealed weapon under the authority of this new law will still be required to meet the eligibility requirements for receiving a Class 2 license. These conditions include being a North Dakota resident, at least eighteen years of age, mentally fit, possessing a valid ID, and having no felony or violent crime convictions. In addition, other restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon still apply, including the prohibition at public gatherings, government buildings, and schools.
Constitutional carry is an example of good legislation that protects the constitutional rights of North Dakotans, while still promoting public safety and personal responsibility.