Lawmakers pass nearly half-dozen gun bills to protect N.D. citizens

Man loading a shotgun

The recent biennium prompted the Breakfast Posse to ask about the current state of open and concealed-carry laws in North Dakota. Well, it’s actually pretty simple. In the wake of nationwide violence, particularly, in public places at “protests”, our State Legislature passed, by my count, five gun bills this session increasing citizens’ rights to protect themselves.


First, North Dakota has always been an “open carry” state except where city/county ordinance prohibited that inside their jurisdiction. Long guns were (and still are) generally permitted. The old law required a concealed-carry permit (CCW) for such activities but, that has been changed. There is no longer any time, loaded/unloaded or other restriction with three exceptions; and, no longer can local ordinances be more restrictive than the Century Code.

Second, if you are at least twenty-one and, can legally possess a loaded firearm (or other dangerous weapon), you can now carry it (concealed or open; loaded or unloaded) anywhere in North Dakota that is not a public gathering or, retail liquor establishment. Those latter restrictions now do not apply to law enforcement (including retired officers), corrections officers, state, federal, or municipal court judges, judicial referees or, staff members of the attorney general. However, HB 1233 and HB 1169 DO create a new definition of a public gathering.

Now, “churches” are no longer included. A public gathering is now defined as an athletic/sporting event, a school or, government owned/operated building. The distinction is that weapons (open or concealed) are banned from those locations AT ALL. In regards to churches, HB 1273 clarified that a church’s leadership may either allow a person with a North Dakota (or reciprocating state’s) CCW to carry concealed so long as they notify local law enforcement of his/her name. In the alternative, if church leadership wants to ban the presence of weapons on the premises to any person, they must post notice of the prohibition at each entrance to the church or other place of worship.

Third, since Section 62.1-02-04 was not repealed or amended, so, except for law enforcement folks, only the proprietor (and/or their employee/designee), it is still a class A misdemeanor for a citizen to possess a firearm or dangerous weapon (including a Taser/equivalent) in a liquor establishment. Defined as—the part of the establishment set aside for retail sale/consumption of alcoholic beverages. Or, any part of that establishment used for gaming or bingo.

Fourth, HB 1233 now makes it easier to change between a North Dakota class 1 and class 2 CCW license. The Breakfast Posse asked, “So, why get a CCW at all now?” The answer is twofold: (1) to avoid background checks at the point of sale of a new purchase in North Dakota; and (2) in case you travel outside our state with the weapon, where it IS a crime to carry concealed.

Fifth, HB 1402 allows a District Court, in a civil domestic violence order, if there is first shown that it is more likely than not that there is an “actual or imminent” threat that a weapon might be used, the court may include the provision that any person subject to their order “surrender for safekeeping any firearm or other dangerous weapon…in the respondent’s immediate possession or control…to the sheriff or… chief of police”. Federal law also per se bans possession of a firearm while under one of these orders too.

Sixth, although there are no “gun free” zones established in North Dakota (except public gatherings or liquor establishments) but, employers are still allowed to control their employees and company premises. HB 1169 provides that although an employer cannot (for any reason) condition employment upon an employee not keeping a firearm locked in their personal vehicle, the boss may still bar employees from possessing weapons on the premises while at work. And, if the business proprietor does not want to allow customers or other invitees to bring a weapon into their business/premises, they must still specifically tell them and/or ask them to leave.

Seventh, it is a class B misdemeanor to discharge a firearm within a city unless one is law enforcement, a citizen defending his/her person or property, or “by participants in lawful activities in which discharge of firearms is a recognized part of the activity, including shooting galleries and ranges.” Finally, it is also a class B misdemeanor for a minor (or their parent or guardian), under the age of fifteen, to carry or use “any firearm of any description loaded with powder and projectile except when the minor is under the direct supervision of the parent, guardian, or other person authorized by the parent or guardian.”

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