Bills To Allow Concealed Carry In Churches And Schools Get Big Changes

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At the beginning of the legislative session there were two bills to allow churches and school districts to change their policies to allow concealed carry on their property: HB1283, introduced by Rep. Kim Koppelman (this bill addressed both schools and churches), and HB1215 introduced by Rep. Dwight Kiefert (Kiefert’s bill only addressed schools).

Both bills have undergone big changes since being submitted, however.

Rep. Dwight Kiefert’s bill has been amended to require that law enforcement be notified of anyone the school districts allow to carry concealed weapons on school property. This seems like an unnecessary provision that would be prohibitive to broad allowances of concealed carry. Kiefert’s bill also allows for school districts to make decisions about concealed carry on school grounds in secret, which has transparency advocates upset (for good reason).

Kiefert told me in an interview that the intent of that provision was to help protect all ND schools by leaving would-be shooters unclear as to which schools are “gun free zones” and which aren’t. That argument has some merit, but not enough to override the public’s right to know what their school district’s policy is about concealed carry. I suspect that this provision, which has survived to the amended version of the bill coming out of committee, will be enough to earn his bill defeat.

Rep. Kim Koppleman’s bill stands a better chance, but it too has been amended both to remove permission for schools to allow concealed carry and to require that churches allowing concealed carry on their property notify law enforcement. Frankly, while I support the right of churches to make gun policy decisions for themselves, were I in the legislature I would oppose this bill for the law enforcement notification provision alone.

Private property owners have to notify police as to who is carrying concealed on their property? That’s a bad idea.

Both bills, which both got “do pass” recommendations coming out of committee, will get a vote in the House today.

Update: Rep. Rick Becker emails to point out that his bill, HB1366, exempting concealed carry permit holders from prohibitions on carrying in public places (including schools and churches), will get a vote today as well. Originally Becker’s bill required permission from a school or church before a permit holder could carry there, but that appears to have been removed by amendment.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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