North Dakota House Passes Bills To Allow Concealed Carry In Schools, Churches And All Public Gatherings

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In addition to passing HB1467, introduced by Rep. Karen Karls, which disallows the seizure of guns by government officials during declared emergencies the North Dakota House passed bills making significant changes to existing law dictating where concealed carry permit holders can take their guns. Current law prohibits carry in schools, in churches and other sorts of public gatherings. A series of bills passed today allows concealed carry at all public gatherings, and allows for churches and schools to make their own decisions about carry.

Here’s video of the floor debate:

Three of the gun bills passed today got very little debate.

HB1467 passed on a 76-17 vote.

HB1283, introduced by Rep. Kim Koppelman allows concealed carry in churches with the permission of church leadership though it requires churches notify law enforcement as to who they allow to carry. It passed on a 82-11 vote.

HB1366, introduced by Rep. Rick Becker, removes from existing law prohibitions on concealed carry at public events. It passed on a 58-35 vote.

But HB1215, to allow schools to set gun policy locally, by far got the most debate. That surprised me (I’d have guessed Becker’s bill, which is far more broad than any of the others, would have inspired the most debate), but maybe it shouldn’t have. Rep. Kiefert included in his bill an allowance for school districts to make decisions about gun policy in executive session, which is essentially a closed meeting. That had a lot of people, including this observer, worried but Rep. Kim Koppelman made a valid point when he noted that while executive session allows for the issue to be discussed behind closed doors it does not allow for the ultimate decision to remain secret.

That’s at odds with Rep. Kiefert’s argument in favor of closed meetings to keep would-be shooters guessing as to which schools might or might not have armed people in them, but I digress.

“Do we want schools to be gun free zones or not?” asked Rep. Koppelman during the floor debate. As we see shooting after shooting take place in “gun free zones,” it’s clear that banning guns from places like schools have turned them into targets. I think schools ought to have the debate about gun policy out in the open, but by and large HB1215 is a step in the right direction (even though it, like Koppelman’s bill, has been tagged with a requirement that schools notify law enforcement as to who will be carrying on school grounds).

That direction schools that are no longer targets for people looking to rack up a big body count.

Update: An earlier version of this post referenced Sen. Karen Krebsbach instead of Rep. Karen Karls, who actually introduced the bill (obviously since we’re talking about the House). My fault for mixing up Karens.

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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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